Man, 33, fined $6,600 for possessing and keeping illegal wildlife

The seller transported the star tortoises and hedgehog in plastic containers. PHOTO: AVA
The seller transported the star tortoises and hedgehog in plastic containers. PHOTO: AVA

SINGAPORE - A 33-year-old man has been fined $6,600 for possessing and keeping illegal wildlife, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said on Wednesday (Sept 13).

It had received a tip-off on Feb 28 that Lim Kok Huat was allegedly selling illegal wildlife online.

Working with the informant, the agency monitored his activities and conducted a sting operation on March 8.

A pair of Indian star tortoises and a hedgehog, which were meant for sale, were seized and placed under the care of Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Keeping and selling wild animals, such as tortoises and hedgehogs, is not allowed in Singapore, and the demand for them 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 agency.

"If mishandled, the wild animal may also face unnecessary suffering. In addition, wild animals that are non-native to Singapore may also be a threat to our biodiversity if released into the environment."

It is an offence in Singapore to illegally import, export, possess or sell - including online - any illegal wildlife species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna or Flora (Cites), such as the star tortoise.

Anyone found guilty can be fined up to $500,000, jailed for two years, or both, and will also have to forfeit the wild animal.

It is also an offence to keep or sell wild animals not protected by Cites, such as hedgehogs. Anyone found guilty can be fined up to $1,000 and will have to forfeit the animal.

"While AVA continues to ensure that regulatory measures against illegal trade, possession and sale of live animals and wildlife are in place and enforced, the public can play their part too," urged the agency.

"We need the cooperation of the public to report suspected cases of illegal wildlife pet ownership or trade, and provide information, such as the suspected person or company involved, type of animals alleged to be smuggled or offered for sale, and locations."

Anyone with information on illegal wildlife activities can contact AVA at 6805-2992 or make a report through its online feedback form.

All information shared will be kept strictly confidential.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.