Best of our wild blogs: 5 Mar 18

Wild fun for kids during the March school holidays!
wild shores of singapore

Flatworms and nudibranchs
Hantu Blog

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca) @ Sentosa
Monday Morgue

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More than 100 cases of people dealing with illegal exotic pets since 2013: AVA

Loh Chuan Junn Channel NewsAsia 4 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE: Snakes and geckos are typically considered wild animals.

But for some people, these reptiles are prized possessions worth breaking the law for so they can keep them as exotic pets.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said it handled 105 cases pertaining to the possession, sale or trade of live wild animals seized from Singapore's borders, inland possession and online sales from 2013 to 2017.

Some of these animals are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), an international agreement ensuring that trade does not threaten wildlife species with extinction. Singapore is a signatory of CITES.

Among the five most common illegal wildlife seized by AVA are star tortoises, hedgehogs, ball pythons, sugar gliders and leopard geckos.

These animals are allowed to be kept as pets in some parts of the world, but are banned in Singapore.

Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s Director of Conservation & Research Sonja Luz told Channel NewsAsia that exotic wild animals are “often very difficult” to keep as pets.

The Indian star tortoise is one of the most common illegal wildlife seized by AVA. (Photo: Junn Loh)

“They have very special requirements that you can only understand if you really understand the biology of the animal,” she said. “Because it's illegal in Singapore, I think the expertise is simply not there."

They could also transmit zoonotic diseases to humans, Dr Luz added. Reptiles like snakes and lizards are known to carry the Salmonella bacteria, which can cause people to be seriously ill.


Despite its tough laws, Singapore is seen as a "country of primary concern" by wildlife trade monitoring network, TRAFFIC, in a report released last year.

Singapore’s World Wide Fund for Nature spokesperson Janissa Ng said illegal traders make use of Singapore's strategic geographical location to carry out illicit activities.

"Wildlife trade in Asia is rampant and it's something that is a daily occurrence for people across Asia, even here in Singapore,” said Ms Ng.

"We're a transit hub, which basically (means that smugglers) take advantage of our connectivity and strong air and sea links,” she added.

To combat wildlife trafficking, Singapore has in place measures such as regulations, public education and industry engagement, said AVA. It also gathers intelligence and conducts investigations.

Those who violate the law pertaining to the illegal trading of wildlife could be fined up to S$500,000 or jailed for two years, or both.

Despite such measures, wildlife advocacy group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) believes that more deterrent methods are needed.

"We already have very good legislation that clearly states what's prohibited, what's not. We really look forward to and urge that at some point Singapore would consider sniffer dogs programmes to make our border controls tighter,” said ACRES’ Deputy Chief Executive Anbarasi Boopal.


The use of online sites to trade wildlife illegally was another concern raised by ACRES.

In 2017 alone, ACRES' Animal Crime Investigation Unit picked up more than 500 online advertisements offering banned wildlife.

“It is shocking to see the level of trade online of in general live animals and also their parts,” Ms Anbarasi said.

“There's no proper form of verification, and currently there're no regulations that control and regulate online sale … they just have the access. They don't even have to go and visit a pet shop to look for something exotic ... (that) is the worse part of the online trade,” she added.

Source: CNA/am

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Indonesia: Tiger brutally killed in North Sumatra, hung from ceiling

The Jakarta Post 4 Mar 18;

A male Sumatran tiger was killed on Sunday with a spear in Hatupangan village of Batang Natal subdistrict, North Sumatra, and its disemboweled body hung from the public hall's ceiling on Sunday morning, after residents thought it was a siluman (shapeshifter).

It is not only lack of awareness and a lack of rangers that the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) have to deal with to preserve the endangered Sumatran tiger, but they must also eradicate the siluman superstition.

"The tiger was sleeping under a resident's stilt house when the people struck him repeatedly in the abdomen with a spear," said Batang Natal subdistrict head Lion Muslim Nasution on Sunday to The Jakarta Post.

Lion added that the residents were actually aware of its endangered status; however, they had heard rumors and feared that a siluman had been lingering in the village for over a month.

North Sumatra BKSDA head Hotmauli Sianturi said her agency had tried to prevent the killing days before. "We had talked to them [the residents], even involving the National Army [TNI] officers, but they still won't listen to us," she said.

Meanwhile, Gunung Gea, the executive director of the Scorpion Foundation regretted the incident, saying it was barbaric behavior from the residents to kill and hang the remains in the public hall.

"The case must be handled as soon as possible by the authorities," said Gea on Sunday.

The Sumatran tiger population currently stands no more than 600, according to the official estimate from the Environment and Forestry Ministry. Meanwhile, a report in Nature Communication Journal estimated that there were 618 adults in 2012, or a 20 percent drop from the 742 in 2000. (srs/swd)

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