Public reminded not to release animals into the wild ahead of Vesak Day

The authorities have warned the public not to release animals into the wild.
The authorities have warned the public not to release animals into the wild.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The authorities will be patrolling 18 nature areas - such as parks and reservoirs - and educating the public on the harm caused by releasing animals into the wild.

The National Parks Board (NParks) and national water agency PUB will hold the annual initiative, dubbed "Operation No Release", on two weekends - May 6 and 7, and May 13 and 14 - with the help of volunteers.

For Vesak Day, which falls on May 10 this year, some Buddhist devotees release animals including fish, birds, turtles and crickets as a gesture of compassion.

However, the authorities warn that not only is it likely that captive animals will die soon after release, but those few that do survive can also cause damage to the balance of ecosystems here.

NParks group director of conservation Wong Tuan Wah said in a joint media statement: "This is particularly so for our nature reserves, which have more sensitive ecosystems, and animals released into waterways outside of the nature reserves would still have adverse effects if those waterways lead into the nature reserves."

Meanwhile, Mr Ridzuan Ismail, PUB's director of catchment and waterways, said that the release of non-native species could affect water quality and threaten the safety of water activities.

"We strongly urge members of the public against releasing animals into our reservoirs and waterways," he said.

Operation No Release was introduced in 2006, following volunteer efforts in 2004 to dissuade members of the public from releasing animals for Vesak Day.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore also urged members of the public not to abandon household creatures, with its animal management group director, Ms Jessica Kwok, saying: "It is irresponsible and cruel to abandon pets.

"Pets may not survive in the wild as they usually lack the natural instincts and ability to find food or fend for themselves."

Pet owners who wish to give up their pets should find a new home, she said, and can approach an animal welfare group for help.

Those caught releasing animals could be fined up to $50,000, under the Parks and Trees Act.