6 animal-smuggling attempts via Woodlands Checkpoint detected in February: AVA

Ng Huiwen Straits Times 15 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE - Officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) uncovered six attempts by travellers to import live animals without permits via the Woodlands Checkpoint in February.

Among the creatures detected included a live Jambul bird kept in a drawstring pouch inside a Singaporean woman's handbag on Feb 9, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said in a Facebook post on Wednesday night (March 14).

The following day, on Feb 10, ICA officers found two small plastic aquariums containing live mealworms and insects in the back seat of a Singapore-registered car.

While officers were conducting checks, a live oriental white-eye songbird, or mata puteh in Malay, flew out from the car's window. It was captured with the help of an AVA officer.

On Feb 26, ICA officers again detected 121 live birds in 10 boxes, concealed in a compartment of a Malaysia-registered tour bus.

The driver, a 30-year-old man, had also tried to smuggle in 4,500 sachets of chewing tobacco in another luggage compartment.

The authorities have also found wildlife being smuggled into Singapore on three occasions through the Woodlands Checkpoint last month.

A Greek tortoise kept in a plastic container was concealed in the car jack compartment of a Singapore-registered vehicle on Feb 9.

And on Feb 14 and 17, ICA officers detected three live sugar gliders.

Two were kept in a pouch hidden under the driver's seat of a Singapore-registered car, and the other was hidden in a sling pouch of a Singaporean woman.

All the offenders were referred to AVA for further investigations, it said in the Facebook post.

Meanwhile, the animals have been placed under the care of Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

In the post, AVA and ICA issued a reminder for travellers on the regulations Singapore has on the import of animals to safeguard public and animal health.

Anyone found guilty of importing any animal or bird without a licence may be fined up to $10,000, jailed up to a year, or both.