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askST: What should I do if I suspect poaching activity is going on?

Reader Keita Sin asked what is the right action to take, and which authority to inform, when one encounters a suspected poacher.

Environment reporter Audrey Tan answered the question.

SINGAPORE - It may surprise some to know that highly urbanised Singapore teems with wildlife. It may surprise readers even more to know that some of these animals are being poached from the wild.

The Straits Times reported on Apr 15 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, or spike-studded wires, to catch these animals.

Sometimes, the animals are kept as pets, other times they are sold, or even eaten, sources told The Straits Times.

 

However, official figures do not reflect poaching as a major problem.

In fact, over the past five years from 2012 to 2016, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said it investigated 24 cases of alleged poaching. Of these, six cases were resolved with fines. For the rest, warnings and advisories were issued.

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 them at 6805-2992.

All information shared with AVA will be kept strictly confidential.

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

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

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