Singapore

More protection for wildlife, offenders face tougher penalties

The feeding and release of wildlife has been made illegal islandwide with sweeping changes to the Wild Animals And Birds Act passed in Parliament yesterday that confers greater protection on Singapore's native flora and fauna.

The law now also gives powers to the National Parks Board's (NParks) director-general of wildlife management to direct developers to undertake measures to safeguard wildlife, public health or safety, or the health of the ecosystem. It has been renamed the Wildlife Act.

These changes will mean that preventive steps - such as installing hoarding along the perimeter of a development to reduce roadkill - can be taken, instead of only after an animal is found dead.

The feeding and release of wildlife will also be made illegal islandwide, when previously it was banned only in parks and nature reserves. The feeding of wildlife is considered detrimental as this could desensitise animals to human presence.

MORE INTERACTIONS

This could lead to more interactions between human and animals and cause conflict, as was the case in previous instances involving wild boars and long-tailed macaques, for example.

The release of non-native animals into Singapore's habitats could also cause problems for the animals and the ecosystem.

Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC), who had proposed the changes, said: "I cannot count the number of pig-nosed turtles that have turned up dead on our shores. Many think these are marine turtles who live in the sea, but they are actually freshwater turtles. They go through a very painful death when released into the sea."

Under the amended law, there will also be harsher penalties. Those who kill, trap, take or keep wildlife without approval previously faced a fine of up to $1,000.

Now, anyone who does so could be fined up to $50,000, jailed for up to two years, or both, if the animal is a protected species.

Mr Ng had initiated the private member's Bill with Ms Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC) after more than two years of work by the Wild Animals Legislation Review Committee, which sought feedback from the public on the proposed changes.

The committee, chaired by Mr Ng, is made up of representatives from various groups. They include the nature and animal welfare communities, religious leaders, pest management companies, academics and lawyers.

Private member's Bills are introduced by MPs who are not ministers.

Environment