Amending law will boost wildlife protection efforts

Straits Times Forum 8 Jul 18;

I refer to the letter by Mr Ong Junkai (Extreme wildlife protection laws could hurt conservation; July 1) in which he appears to have misconstrued the point of this effort to amend the laws to further protect wildlife.

Singapore may not be home to "charismatic endangered" wildlife like tigers and elephants, but we still have a rich biodiversity which deserves protection.

Every country has its challenges and the wildlife protection efforts must address them.

Habitat fragmentation is a key threat to Singapore's wildlife, but we must understand that Singapore is transitioning into a "city in a garden". Greening efforts have resulted in wildlife such as otters, civets, macaques and reptiles adapting to urban greenery and no longer being restricted to nature reserves.

Education is key, and we need to know not just what animals we have here but also how to co-exist with them.

The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society has come across several cases of wildlife being hurt or trapped due mainly to ignorance and the use of self-made traps.

Removal of wildlife should be strictly regulated, and this is one of the proposed amendments.

Singapore's wildlife faces additional threats from unethical photography practices, human food provision, and nuisance complaints resulting in removal and culling, poaching, and litter.

The tweaks to the law will not isolate our society from nature, but render it better protection.

There is an urgent need to adopt an "appreciate from a distance" approach.

Lastly, I believe Mr Ong has confused wildlife protection with wildlife conservation.

Wildlife protection generally refers to the protection of all wild animals, for example, wild boars and macaques. The latter term is often used to describe conservation efforts of more endangered wildlife.

We must move towards a society that is compassionate towards all wild animals, native or non-native, common or endangered, and adopt strategies to protect all animals, and look into humane ways to manage their populations when required. Amending this legislation will better protect the wild animals in Singapore.

Kalai Vanan Balakrishnan
Deputy Chief Executive
Animal Concerns Research and Education Society

Wildlife protection laws should consider intent, not just action
Straits Times Forum 15 Jul 18;

Laws to further protect wildlife should not be passed solely on the misconception that the general public is ignorant about wildlife (Amending law will boost wildlife protection efforts, by the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres); July 8).

How such laws are put into effect affects the operational efficiency of wildlife rescue groups such as Acres.

It should take into account the intent of the act, and not solely the action.

For example, removing a trapped mynah fledgling from the drain can be done by any person, without the need to activate Acres, whose resources can be saved for more meaningful operations involving wild boars or macaques.

When there is a focus on saving individual animals because of the belief that all animals are sentient, the interests of the natural ecosystem will be compromised.

The mention of some threats to wildlife in Singapore, such as unethical photography practices, may come across as nitpicking on small issues.

Invasive and non-native wildlife also do not deserve to be accorded protection, as they compete with local wildlife and public assistance should be sought to have them removed.

Educators should be concerned about whether they are actually promoting respect for wildlife or fear, especially for animals often stigmatised, such as snakes.

This is important during the early years of a child's development, as fear of such misunderstood groups of animals can develop.

Handling wildlife outside of nature reserves should not be criminalised, as long as no physical harm comes directly to such animals.

This was exactly what naturalist David Attenborough is concerned about. The act of enforcing "appreciation from a distance" is a sure way to reduce potential naturalists over the years. To not heed the advice of the world's most renowned naturalist would be foolish.

Junkai Ong

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