Animal cruelty cases in Singapore are on the rise, and the new Animal Crime Investigation Unit hopes to speak up for these silent victims.
The unit, launched by wildlife rescue group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), started operations on Monday.
The animal investigators go undercover to detect crime and work with authorities to nab offenders.
"The crucial part is we're not just calling up AVA and telling them there's a shop in Choa Chu Kang selling tiger parts. We actually go down to investigate, we arm our volunteers with hidden cameras, we collect the evidence, we write it all up. We pass the evidence to AVA who then also help to investigate and prosecute," said Louis Ng, chief executive for ACRES.
In Singapore, the number of animal cruelty cases handled by the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) rose from 292 in 2007 to 484 in 2012.
The number of reports received by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) also went up from 870 in 2007 to 1027 in 2011.
Mr Ng said: "A lot of cases get investigated but prosecution is very low. We found out that it's because of a lack of evidence, or a lack of eyewitnesses. What we as an NGO can do is, we can help gather the evidence, help speak to people who are perhaps more willing to speak to NGOs, getting them to testify and sign statutory declarations."