6 animal-smuggling bids foiled at Woodlands in Feb

Two small plastic aquariums containing live mealworms and insects - and a mata puteh - were found in a Singapore-registered car.
Two small plastic aquariums containing live mealworms and insects - and a mata puteh - were found in a Singapore-registered car.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/AVA

Officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) uncovered six attempts by travellers to import live animals without permits via the Woodlands Checkpoint last month.

Among the creatures smuggled in was a live jambul bird kept in a drawstring pouch inside a Singaporean woman's handbag on Feb 9, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said in a Facebook post on Wednesday night.

The following day, ICA officers found two small plastic aquariums containing live mealworms and insects in the back seat of a Singapore-registered car.

While officers were conducting checks, an oriental white-eye songbird, also known as mata puteh in Malay, flew out of the car's window. It was captured with the help of an AVA officer.

On Feb 26, ICA officers detected 121 live birds in 10 boxes, concealed in a compartment of a Malaysia-registered tour bus. The driver, a 30-year-old man, had also tried to smuggle in 4,500 sachets of chewing tobacco in another luggage compartment.

The authorities also found live wildlife being smuggled into Singapore on three occasions through the Woodlands Checkpoint last month.

A Greek tortoise kept in a plastic container was concealed in the carjack compartment of a Singapore-registered vehicle on Feb 9.

And on Feb 14 and Feb 17, ICA officers detected three sugar gliders. Two were kept in a pouch hidden under the driver's seat of a Singapore-registered car, and the other was hidden in a sling pouch belonging to a Singaporean woman.

All the suspects were referred to AVA for further investigations, the Facebook post said.

The animals have been placed under the care of Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

In the Facebook post, AVA and ICA issued a reminder to travellers on the regulations which Singapore has on the import of animals to safeguard public and animal health.

Anyone found guilty of importing any animal or bird without a licence may be fined up to $10,000, jailed up to a year, or both.

Ng Huiwen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2018, with the headline '6 animal-smuggling bids foiled at Woodlands in Feb'. Print Edition | Subscribe