A 42-year old man in Singapore has been jailed for possessing illegal wildlife species, on Thursday, November 2.
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) charged Lau Kin Wei Clement for keeping illegal exotic animals and demanded a fine of S$4,700. Since Lau was unable to pay the fine, he has been jailed for 23 days, by default.
Lau kept seven illegal species of exotic animals -- two Wagler's pit vipers, a paradise tree snake, a snapping turtle, an alligator, a big black scorpion and a bronzeback snake. The AVA authorities said that upon investigating Lau's residence, the exotic wildings were uncovered and confiscated. The animals are under the care of Wildlife Reserves Singapore.
Keeping exotic wild animals such as scorpions, snakes and turtles are considered illegal in Singapore, said AVA. Demand for these animals fall under illegal wildlife trade and can have adverse effects on the wildlife population of several species.
The AVA authorities also stated that keeping wild animals as pets can be risky as they may transmit zoonotic diseases to humans and can be a risk if they escape into the dense urban environment. Furthermore, these species can inflict venomous and painful bites on humans.
The pit vipers are usually not considered aggressive but still, their venoms can be deadly to humans. Snake bites too cause a strong burning sensation which might lead to necrosis or death of certain tissues surrounding the bite. The AVA further stated that wild animals which are not natives of Singapore can be harmful to the biodiversity.
Possession of any wildlife species coming under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna or Flora (CITES) is considered an offence.
Lau could have been fined up to S$500,000 or jailed for two years, for possessing the alligator and turtle. The AVA said it is monitoring the import and export and possession of live animals, and sought public support on the same.