Man fined $7,600 for illegally importing and possessing wildlife; tried to smuggle turtle in spectacle case

A man was fined $7,600 for the illegal import and possession of two tortoises and three turtles.
A man was fined $7,600 for the illegal import and possession of two tortoises and three turtles.PHOTO: AVA

SINGAPORE - A 28-year-old man was fined $7,600 on Wednesday (Oct 17) for illegally importing and possessing wildlife.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said in a joint statement that Joey Law Swee Siang was fined $4,000 for illegally importing a leopard tortoise in April this year.

Law was also fined an additional $3,000 for possessing an African spurred tortoise and $600 for keeping a razor-backed musk turtle in his home.

Two other charges for possessing a Mekong snail-eating turtle and a snake-necked turtle were also taken into consideration during sentencing.

ICA officers had on April 13 detected a leopard tortoise hidden in an eyewear case placed in the glove compartment of a Singapore-registered car at Woodlands Checkpoint, and referred the case to AVA for further investigations.

AVA conducted follow-up checks at Law's residence on the same day and found the four other illegal wildlife in his home. The animals, which are not approved pets, were seized and placed in the care of Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

The leopard tortoise, African spurred tortoise and Mekong snail-eating turtle are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).

Offenders convicted of keeping and trading wildlife and wildlife products can be fined up to $1,000, and will have to forfeit the animals.

If the wildlife species is protected under Cites, offenders convicted of illegally possessing or selling such species can be fined up to $500,000 and jailed up to two years. Similarly, they will have to forfeit the animals.

The authorities said that travellers are reminded not to import or keep such exotic pets as demand for these animals would fuel the illegal wildlife trade. It said that wild animals are not suitable as pets because some may transmit diseases to humans and pose a public safety risk if mishandled.

Non-native animals may also threaten Singapore's biodiversity if released into the environment, the authorities added.

Members of the public can refer to AVA's website or its SG TravelKaki mobile app for more information on bringing back animals from overseas travels.