SINGAPORE - The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) is investigating a case where five hedgehogs were found abandoned at the garbage point of a Housing Board block on Nov 10.
Wildlife rescue group Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (Acres) had posted a photo of the hedgehogs on its Facebook page on Wednesday (Nov 15), alongside a photo of a single hedgehog that was found in the drain of a nature reserve last year and died soon after rescue.
Acres deputy chief executive Anbarasi Boopal told The Straits Times that the five hedgehogs were abandoned in a plastic box on Nov 10, and passed to Acres the day after. It is unclear where exactly they were found as they were handed over by a volunteer.
The hedgehogs were passed to the Singapore Zoo on Saturday as Acres does not have the permits to house exotic mammals.
Ms Boopal said Acres just attended to another abandoned hedgehog case on Wednesday morning.
"Pet abandonment is a serious issue," she said. "Online trade in illegal wildlife is rampant in Singapore, and people often buy without knowing that it is illegal, and then they do not know what to do with the animal when it falls sick."
A spokesman for AVA told The Straits Times on Friday that it is aware of the case of abandonment and is investigating the case.
This year, there were five cases where hedgehogs were kept illegally, with a total of nine hedgehogs involved, said AVA.
Last year, there were two such cases involving two hedgehogs.
There were no cases of illegal import of hedgehogs both last year and this year.
It is an offence in Singapore to illegally import or export, possess, sell, offer or advertise for sale or display to the public any illegal wildlife species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna or Flora (Cites).
It is also an offence to keep, sell or offer for sale wild animals not protected by Cites, such as hedgehogs.
Those found guilty may be fined up to $1,000, and the wild animal will be forfeited.
"Demand for such animals would fuel illegal wildlife trade. Wild animals are not suitable pets as they may transmit zoonotic diseases to humans and can be a public safety risk if mishandled or if they escape into our dense urban environment," said the AVA spokesman.
She added that mishandled wild animals may face unnecessary suffering, and wild animals that are not native to Singapore may pose a threat to our biodiversity if released into the environment.
Anyone with information on the case or other cases of illegal wildlife trade, such as photographic or video evidence, may contact AVA on its 24-hour hotline 1800-476-1600. All information shared with AVA will be kept confidential.
They can also contact Acres at email@example.com or call its 24-hour wildlife crime and rescue hotline on 9783-7782.
Additional reporting by Shelina Ajit Assomull