Surgeon who injected live fish with air to bait eagles for photos fined S$2,000

KELLY NG Today Online 25 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE — An orthopaedic surgeon who injected live fish with air to use as bait for eagles so that he could get good photos of the birds was fined S$2,000 on Tuesday (Oct 25).

Lee Soon Tai, 62, who runs a clinic at Mount Elizabeth Centre, did so on two occasions in order to get photos of grey-headed fish eagles swooping in on prey. Injecting air into fish makes them struggle and float on the surface for a longer period of time.

There are about 20 breeding pairs of grey-headed fish eagles, an endangered animal, in the whole of Singapore. Bukit Batok Town Park, where Lee committed the offence, is home to some of these birds.

The court was told that on July 19 last year, Lee bought three live fish from an aquarium in Clementi, then met Sathiananthen Rasalingam and Tran Thuong Chung Linh at the park. Tran arrived with more live fish in a white plastic bag, which Lee paid for.

Sometime between 2pm and 6pm, Lee injected one live fish with air using a syringe and needle, which he instructed Tran to throw into the pond to attract the eagles.

National Parks Board officer Adelle Wang, who was off duty at that time, heard a splash and saw the fish struggling on the surface of the pond. She also caught Lee taking photographs when an eagle swooped down on the fish, and flew away.

Ms Wang took photographs of the act, but was restrained by Sathiananthen.

Lee committed a similar offence on Aug 16 at the same park. That afternoon, Lee and Sathiananthen bought fish from an aquarium in Teck Whye before proceeding to the park. Tran and a third co-accused person V V Shanmuga Sundaram was also at the scene. After injecting a live fish with air, Lee instructed Shanmuga to throw it into the pond.

As with the previous occasion, this enticed an eagle to fly down and get the fish, during which Lee took photographs.

A video of the acts made its rounds on the Internet last October and raised the ire of netizens, with the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society calling out the acts as “cruel” to the fish and eagles.

In June this year, Lee was charged. He could have been fined S$5,000 for each charge of feeding the eagles without approval.

Related posts
Surgeon accused of baiting rare birds to get good photo Audrey Tan, The Straits Times AsiaOne 8 Jun 16;
Bird photographers stuff styrofoam into live fish to bait eagles AsiaOne 28 Oct 15;

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