SINGAPORE - A man who drove a Malaysian-registered tour bus that carried 121 live birds concealed in a compartment has been sentenced to eight months' jail.
He received five months' jail for abetting the import of 44 Fischer's Lovebirds, a protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), without a permit.
He was sentenced to another three months' jail for abetting animal cruelty, while a third sentence of three months' jail for abetting the illegal import of 77 live birds will run concurrently.
Sudrak A/L Naum, 30, was driving a Malaysian-registered tour bus to Singapore from Malaysia on Feb 26 when he was stopped at Woodlands Checkpoint by Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said in a statement on Wednesday (April 25).
ICA officers found 121 live birds in 10 boxes concealed in a compartment between the driver and the front right tyre.
The case was referred to AVA for investigation.
AVA said that the poor conditions and manner that the birds were transported in caused them unnecessary pain and suffering.
"Eight birds were found dead on arrival and more have since died," said AVA.
Investigations also found that another man travelling with Sudrak had been commissioned to smuggle the birds to an unidentified person in Singapore, who has since fled the country.
AVA said that the health of animals that are smuggled into Singapore is unknown and they may introduce exotic diseases such as bird flu into the country.
Importing animals and birds without a licence is an offence under the Animals and Birds Act and is punishable with a jail term of up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Additionally, CITES permits are required for any import, export and re-export of Cites species, including their parts and products.
Under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, offenders can be jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $50,000 per scheduled species, not exceeding a maximum aggregate of $500,000.
Anyone who is found guilty of causing unnecessary pain or suffering to any animal can be jailed for up to 18 months and/or fined up to $15,000.
AVA reminded travellers not to bring live animals, birds and insects into Singapore without a proper permit.
For more information on bringing back animals from overseas, visit AVA's website or download its mobile app SG TravelKaki.