Trio seen allegedly poaching for shellfish and crabs at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

SIAU MING EN Today Online 4 Dec 17;

SINGAPORE —Three men believed to have been poaching shellfish and crabs were seen at the mudflats of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on Sunday (Dec 03).

Mr Ben Lee, the founder of nature conservation group Nature Trekker, said he spotted the trio at about 5.20pm while he was conducting a guided tour.

The men, dressed in t-shirts and bermudas, were seen picking items from the mudflat and placing them in a white plastic bag. Mr Lee snapped photos of the men and alerted the National Parks Board to what was happening.

Two NParks staff arrived about 30 to 45 minutes later and escorted the men out of the nature reserve, said Mr Lee.

Mr Lee said he was shocked and disappointed at what he saw and guessed the men were probably picking shellfish and crabs to eat or sell.

The immediate effect of the men’s actions were “not that great” as they appeared to be collecting a small amount of shellfish, which reproduce quite quickly, he said.

“The impact is great if (such poaching) is done extensively,” he said, adding that the authorities need to step in to prevent others from doing the same.

Under the Parks and Trees Act, no one is allowed to capture, displace or feed any animal in a national park or nature reserve without the approval from the commissioner of parks and recreation. They are also not allowed to collect, remove or willfully displace any other organism.

TODAY has reached out to NParks for comments.

Mr Lee, who visits the nature reserve about four to eight times a month to conduct guided tours and teach others about wild bird migration, said he has seen a handful of illegal poaching cases at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in the past.

Some have tried to fish with trawl nets in chest-deep waters.

In 2015, he alerted the authorities to a group of people on a raft, pulling in a large net to check for fish.

Volunteers like himself can help NParks to keep a lookout for illegal activities, he said.

Members of the public should learn about activities prohibited in nature reserves, he added.

“A nature reserve is a place for the preservation and protection of wildlife and such illegal activity should not be allowed to happen. It’s a place where you leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photographs.”

3 men spotted 'poaching' crabs, shellfish from Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Lydia Lam Straits Times 4 Dec 17;

SINGAPORE - A nature guide on a visit to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve was shocked to see three men allegedly poaching shellfish and crabs on Sunday (Dec 3).

Mr Ben Lee, a full-time nature guide at Nature Trekker, told The Straits Times on Monday that he saw three men scooping shellfish and small crabs into large plastic bags at around 5.20pm.

Mr Lee, 54, said the three men appeared to be digging purposefully for the creatures and continued in earnest for about half an hour. One looked to be in his late 40s and the other two were in their 20s.

Mr Lee, who has visited the reserve for around 20 years, notified the National Parks Board, and an officer arrived soon after.

The officer confiscated the items from the three men, said Mr Lee. Meanwhile, he stood at the bridge blocking off the exit with five or six other people who were with him.

He said the men had most likely dug up the creatures for personal consumption, or "for sale to whoever is interested".

Three men spotted allegedly poaching shellfish and crabs at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

This is not the first time Mr Lee has tipped news organisations off about improper activity in Singapore's parks and reserves.

In 2015, he told ST about a couple and a young child in a kayak at the same reserve.

Canoes and kayaks are not allowed in the area, which is home to wild saltwater crocodiles.

"A nature reserve is a place for the preservation and protection of wildlife and such illegal activity should not be allowed to happen," he said.

"It's a place where you leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photographs. The taking or removing of shellfish and small crabs is considered illegal and is within the ambit of the law."

ST has contacted NParks for more information.