Crack down on wildlife trafficking

The recent case of exotic animals dumped outside the Night Safari represents only a minute fraction of the illegal trade in endangered animals carried out throughout the world ("Critically endangered animals abandoned at Night Safari: Wildlife Reserves Singapore"; ST Online, Feb 3)".

Wildlife smuggling is a big business, but also a harmful one.

It is imperative that more be done to prevent such cases from happening.

What we do will have a bearing on the number of species that will still be with us on this planet in years to come.

Each year, many animals are caught in the wild and sold. This is not sustainable.

The root of the problem is innocent enough - the desire for pets.

But some of these animals, such as the prairie dog, marmoset or cotton-top tamarin, cannot possibly be pets, and end up being abandoned because they are not easily handled or because the owner fears being caught.

Many animals do not survive long as a result, and suffer before they die.

It is time to raise the penalties for wildlife trafficking, with fines and/or jail time for perpetrators. These should be aimed not just at those who sell, but also at those who buy, regardless of whether they understand the implications.

Singapore's small size serves as an advantage, helping us to monitor those who would carry out such acts.

We have to come down hard on offenders. We must set an example that such trafficking will not be tolerated.

Manoraj Rajathurai