Forum: Proposed tweaks to wildlife Act need further consideration

A photo from Sept 19, 2019, shows monkeys along the Old Upper Thomson Road.
A photo from Sept 19, 2019, shows monkeys along the Old Upper Thomson Road.PHOTO: ST FILE

The Wild Animals and Birds (Amendment) Bill, initiated by MPs Louis Ng and Cheng Li Hui, will irritate and inconvenience many segments of society in Singapore (Harsher penalties proposed for offences against wildlife, March 7).

The broadly worded proposals include bans on all feeding of wildlife and the capture of invertebrates.

While there may be some justification to disallow the feeding of animals in public areas, the extension of such a ban to private property infringes on the rights of land owners and inhibits the private promotion of wildlife conservation.

Yes, there are reasons to ban the feeding of nuisance species such as monkeys.

But why should people living in landed property face restrictions if they want to attract other desirable wildlife species to their homes?

After all, it is common in some other countries for nature lovers to set up feeding stations to encourage songbirds to stay.

In fact, this is currently being done in some schools and community buildings here.

And please remember that the reintroduction of hornbills to mainland Singapore was largely successful due to the provision of food to ensure that the birds stayed and bred here.

As for Mr Ng's inclusion of invertebrates under the Bill, this could make it technically illegal to participate in traditional recreational activities such as collecting clams, or catching crabs and prawns.

Mr Ng also wants exemptions to be granted to non-government organisations involved with wildlife.

He is the head of one such organisation. On what basis will they be selected?

Lee Chiu San

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2020, with the headline 'Proposed tweaks to wildlife Act need further consideration'. Subscribe