Singapore: ICA seizes 6 live tarantulas at Tuas Checkpoint

Six live tarantulas were kept in individual containers ICA

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said that six live tarantulas were seized from a Singapore-registered car during recent checks at Tuas Checkpoint in Singapore.

In a joint press release on Thursday, ICA and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said that the car was stopped for an inspection at the checkpoint at around 2 pm on Jan 4. It was driven by a 33-year-old Singaporean man.

According to the press release, an ICA officer found the spiders in a sling bag that was placed on the rear passenger seat. The six arthropods were kept individually in plastic drinking cups.

Live tarantula found inside the container ICA

The case was referred to the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) for investigations. After conducting follow-up checks at the Singaporean's home, the authorities seized 92 more tarantulas.

"Tarantulas are not approved to be kept as pets in Singapore," the release said. It added that some species of tarantulas are also protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna or Flora (CITES) Appendix II, and require CITES permits.

"The case is currently under investigation and the tarantulas are being cared for by the Wildlife Reserves Singapore," the news release said.

ICA also reminded travellers "not to import or keep wild animals as pets as demand for such animals would fuel illegal wildlife trade".

Sling bag placed on the rear passenger seat of the car ICA

"Wildlife are 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 authorities added.

The ICA and AVA also said that members of 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.

People with information on illegal wildlife activities may contact AVA at 6805 2992 or via AVA's online feedback form. The authorities added that all information shared with AVA would be kept strictly confidential.

"Our borders are our first line of defence in safeguarding Singapore's safety and security. The security checks are critical to our nation's security," ICA said.

The press release added that ICA will continue to conduct security checks on cargo, passengers and vehicles at the checkpoints to prevent attempts to smuggle in undesirable persons, drugs, weapons, explosives and other contrabands.

"AVA will continue to cooperate and collaborate with partner local and international enforcement agencies to curb wildlife trafficking. We will take enforcement action against any person or company that smuggles wildlife into or through Singapore," the release stated.

This article was first published on January 11, 2018