Man fined $12,800 for illegally importing and keeping tarantulas

Clockwise from far left: One of the 92 tarantulas found in Tam Jiaming's home; another live tarantula that was found in his possession; six tarantulas found in a sling bag when an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officer conducted checks as Tam
One of the 92 tarantulas found in Tam Jiaming's home.PHOTOS: IMMIGRATION AND CHECKPOINTS AUTHORITY
Clockwise from far left: One of the 92 tarantulas found in Tam Jiaming's home; another live tarantula that was found in his possession; six tarantulas found in a sling bag when an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officer conducted checks as Tam
Six tarantulas found in a sling bag when an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officer conducted checks as Tam was going through Tuas Checkpoint.PHOTOS: IMMIGRATION AND CHECKPOINTS AUTHORITY

A 34-year-old man was fined $12,800 on Wednesday for illegally importing and keeping tarantulas in his home.

Tam Jiaming was going through Tuas Checkpoint in a car on Jan 4 when he was directed to undergo checks and questioned by an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officer. He denied that he had anything to declare.

But upon inspection, the ICA officer found six live tarantulas, kept individually in containers, in a sling bag on the rear passenger seat.

Tam's case was then referred to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), which conducted follow-up checks at Tam's residence. They found and seized an additional 92 tarantulas.

Tarantulas are not approved as pets in Singapore. Some of the tarantulas that Tam kept are species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites). Singapore has been a member of Cites since 1986.

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

 One of the 92 tarantulas found in Tam Jiaming's home; another live tarantula that was found in his possession; six tarantulas found in a sling bag when an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officer conducted checks as Tam
Another live tarantula that was found in his possession. PHOTOS: IMMIGRATION AND CHECKPOINTS AUTHORITY

In a joint statement on Wednesday, AVA and ICA reminded the public that the keeping and trading of illegal wildlife and wildlife parts and products are punishable offences liable to a fine of up to $1,000 and the forfeiture of the wildlife.

Those convicted of importation, possession or sale of any Cites-protected species without Cites permits can be fined up to $50,000 per Cites-listed animal, not exceeding a maximum of $500,000, or sentenced to two years' imprisonment, or both.

If the animals in question are subjected to unnecessary suffering or pain, the offender may also be liable to a maximum fine of $10,000 or a year in jail, or both.

Members of the public can alert AVA via its online feedback form (csp.ava.gov.sg/feedback) or call the agency at 6805-2992 about any suspected cases of illegal wildlife trade, and provide information which will be kept strictly confidential, said AVA.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2018, with the headline 'Man fined $12,800 for illegally importing and keeping tarantulas'. Print Edition | Subscribe