Man ties bird to shrub for a picture
Who are the animals here?
The birds or the group of photographers who tied a chick to a shrub just so they could get a better picture of its parents?
What Mr Jaieden Ace Shen saw on Monday shocked him.
It was his first time trying to photograph wild terns (a type of seabird) and their chicks in their habitat at Tuas South.
It was not easy and he was not the only one trying. There were three other photography buffs nearby.
That was when Mr Shen, 30, saw a photographer trying to direct a chick to a spot so its picture could be taken. The chick was not cooperative.
"Then one of them, the guy in red, tied one of the chick's legs together before attaching it to the shrub. It took him quite a while.
"After that, the chick was screaming as it fell down repeatedly, struggling to escape," he recounted.
"While all this was happening, the guy who did the tying and his female companion snapped close-up shots of the parents circling very close to the ground where the chicks were," he said.
The trio in front of him had initially "shoo-ed" the chicks to where they had set up for shots, but "the chicks kept running back to their original hideout," Mr Shen told The New Paper.
Although he was rooted for 10 minutes, "shocked, confused, and upset while witnessing this cruel act", he still managed to secretly document everything.
He said he was too scared to intervene and left after 10 minutes.
"I'm deeply ashamed for being cowardly and for not doing anything about it.
"But it was a stressful moment as I was all alone in a very secluded place I've never been to before and with three total strangers," he said.
It was only after consulting a few friends that he decided to post the photos of the act online that night, first on the wall of the Singapore Bird Group, then on his own.
"Being a newbie and not affiliated with any birding cliques or groups, I was also worried for my own safety should I bump into them again on one of my expeditions," said the introvert, who usually prefers to go bird-watching alone.
The pictures angered both bird and photography enthusiasts.
Many called the act "sick" and "cruel".
Mr Mansur Ahamed commented that it was sad that people "go to this extent to take that one good shot".
"I am sure he could not have done anything alone and would have ended up losing what he (Mr Shen) has documented," he wrote on the Singapore Bird Group Facebook page.
Another netizen, Roland Chua, added: "I thought the whole point of taking wildlife photography is to let the subject be in their natural habitat.
"What's with all these 'shooing', and scaring and pin downs?"
Mr Alan Owyong, past chairman of the Bird Group of Nature Society Singapore, said: "We have always been advocating that the welfare of birds and other animals comes first.
"The society has a 25-page Code of Ethics to guide our members and the public on proper behaviour in the field.
"When our members come across such behaviour, we do try to explain why it is harmful to the birds and other animals."
Founder and chief executive of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society Louis Ng said: "It is appalling that the birds were tied up and they were clearly terrified and suffered in the process.
"We hope that AVA (Agri-food and Veterinary Authority) will prosecute the photographers for animal cruelty and send a strong deterrent message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated in Singapore."
In a reply to The New Paper, an AVA spokesman said: "AVA has received feedback on the case and we are looking into it. We have not received reports of such nature previously.
"AVA does not condone animal cruelty."
In January, Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam announced stiffer fines and longer jail terms for animal abusers.
Under the new legislation, expected to be passed this year, those convicted of animal cruelty under the Animals and Birds Act face fines of $50,000 and/or a jail term of up to three years for repeat offenders.
The penalty is now a fine of up to $10,000 and/or a maximum jail term of one year, or both.