Wildlife smuggling
An eyewear case placed in the glove compartment and Leopard tortoise hidden inside the eyewear case AVA

A 28-year-old man was arrested and fined $4,000 for the illegal import of a Leopard tortoise. The Immigration and Checkpoint Authority of Singapore said that the accused was also fined an additional $3,000 for the possession of an African Spurred tortoise and $600 for keeping a Razor-back musk turtle at his residence.

During sentencing charges for the possession of a Mekong snail-eating turtle and keeping a snake-necked turtle were taken into consideration. All the wild animals are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The news release stated that an immigration officer at Woodlands checkpoint found a Leopard tortoise hidden in an eyewear case placed in the glove compartment of a Singapore-registered car and arrested the accused, Law Swee Siang on April 13 this year. For the further investigation, the case was referred to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

On the same day, when AVA raided Law's residence, they found an African Spurred tortoise, a Razor-back musk turtle, a Mekong snail-eating turtle and a snake-necked turtle. Those illegal wildlife animals were seized and placed in the care of the Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

The ICA stated, "Our borders are our first line of defence in safeguarding Singapore's safety and security. ICA will continue to conduct security checks on passengers and vehicles at the checkpoints to prevent attempts to smuggle in undesirable persons, drugs, weapons, explosives and other contrabands. Animals that are smuggled into Singapore are of unknown health status and may introduce exotic diseases into the country."

For the illegal trading of such wildlife products and animal, any convict is liable to face a fine up to $1,000 and to the forfeiture of the wildlife. If those illegal animals are protected under CITES then the accused will face two years of imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $500,000.

In addition, ICA also said, "Travellers are reminded not to import or keep such exotic pets as demand for these animals would fuel the illegal wildlife trade. Wildlife is not suitable pets as some may transmit zoonotic diseases to humans and pose a public safety risk if mishandled or if they escape into our dense urban environment."

"Non-native animals may also be a threat to our biodiversity if released into the environment. The public can refer to AVA's website or download AVA's mobile app, SG TravelKaki (available free-of-charge from iTunes and the Google Play store), for more information on bringing back animals from overseas travels," the news release stated.