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askST: Help to nab wildlife poachers

Reader Keita Sin wrote in to ask what the right action is and which authority to inform when one encounters a suspected poacher. Environment reporter Audrey Tan answers the question.

It may surprise some to know that highly urbanised Singapore teems with wildlife, and that some of these animals are being poached from the wild.

The Straits Times reported last Saturday that animals such as songbirds, wild boars and fish have been victims of poaching. To ensnare these animals, offenders use means such as spring traps and spike-studded wires.

Sometimes, the animals are kept as pets; other times, they are sold or even eaten, sources said. However, official figures do not indicate that poaching is a major problem.

In fact, over the past five years, from 2012 till last year, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said it investigated 24 cases of alleged poaching. Of these, six cases attracted fines. For the rest, warnings and advisories were issued.


Poachers commonly use traps, like a magpie robin in a cage (above), to lure other birds. PHOTO: STEVEN TOR

Over the same period, the National Parks Board (NParks) said it looked into 17 cases of alleged bird poaching within parks and nature reserves. Fines were paid in eight cases and, in the other cases, people were given warnings and advisories.

The low numbers could be due to the difficulty of catching poachers in the act. Here are some tips on what to do if you suspect poaching activity is going on.

• Submit a report via AVA's online feedback form at https://www.ifaq.gov.sg/AVA/apps/feedback.aspx or call it on 6805-2992. All information shared with the AVA will be kept strictly confidential.

• If such activities are spotted within parks and nature reserves, the NParks has jurisdiction. Call NParks on 1800-471 7300.

• Ms Anbarasi Boopal, deputy chief executive of wildlife rescue group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) also advises members of the public to call Acres on 9783-7782 for assistance.

• Photographs, car plate numbers or videos would help as well, Ms Boopal said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2017, with the headline 'Help to nab wildlife poachers'. Print Edition | Subscribe