5 reports of illegal pets received this year, says AVA

Acres' probe found 156 listings advertising exotic animals as pets online, such as the ball python (pictured).
Acres' probe found 156 listings advertising exotic animals as pets online, such as the ball python (pictured). PHOTO: AVA

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) revealed yesterday that it has received just five reports of illegal pets so far this year.

It came a day after wildlife rescue group Acres (Animal Concerns Research and Education Society) told how an undercover six-month probe found 156 listings advertising exotic animals as pets online. They included ball pythons, monkeys and tiger cubs.

The AVA said it has been monitoring the illegal sale of animals online since 2008 and four of the reported cases this year involved such listings.Past reports about illegal pets have also been few with just two made last year, three in 2013 and 10 in 2012. Online ads made up two of the 2013 cases and eight of those in 2012.

 

CLOSING IN ON TRAFFICKERS

Now with greater awareness about the illegal online wildlife trade, we hope that more people will step up to report to AVA and Acres, so that the net can be cast wider and tighter around wildlife traffickers.

MS NOELLE SEET, head of Acres' Animal Crime Investigation Unit

The AVA said it works with marketplace websites, such as Carousell, to investigate suspected cases of possession and sales of illegal wildlife.

Ms Noelle Seet, head of Acres' Animal Crime Investigation Unit, did not comment on the AVA figures but said: "Now with greater awareness about the illegal online wildlife trade, we hope that more people will step up to report to AVA and Acres, so the net can be cast wider and tighter around wildlife traffickers."

Acres has received 27 reports about online sale listings of illegal pets since March this year.

AVA figures show the number of cases involving the possession or sale of illegal wildlife has doubled from 10 last year to 20 as of Monday. This comes after a drop from 19 cases in 2013 and 2012.

The number of instances of illegal import, export or transhipment detected at Singapore's borders fell from 13 last year to six as of Monday. Since 2013, the AVA has prosecuted nine individuals involved in the illegal import or transit of parts of wildlife species, including rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory. Offenders were fined up to $10,000 and jailed for up to 16 months.

Acres has proposed tackling the problem by using wildlife sniffer dogs at border checkpoints. The AVA spokesman said the method has been considered but was found to be "less cost- effective" than current methods like routine and random checks.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 23, 2015, with the headline '5 reports of illegal pets received this year, says AVA'. Print Edition | Subscribe