SINGAPORE: A 34-year-old man was fined S$12,800 for illegally importing and keeping tarantulas in his home after he was caught at Tuas checkpoint with six live tarantulas in a sling bag.
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said in a joint press release on Wednesday (Aug 1) that when stopped at the checkpoint for checks on Jan 4, Tam Jiaming told an ICA officer that he had nothing to declare.
However, the officer found six live tarantulas, kept individually in containers, in a sling bag in the rear passenger seat.
In follow-up investigations at Tam's house, AVA found and seized another 92 tarantulas.
Tarantulas are not approved to be kept as pets in Singapore.
Some of the tarantulas were species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the agencies said. The spiders have since been placed under the care of Wildlife Reserves Singapore.
AVA said in the statement that demand for wild animals such as tarantulas would fuel illegal wildlife trade, which severely impacts the wild populations of numerous species.
"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," it said. "Non-native animals may also be a threat to our biodiversity if released into the environment."
For keeping and trading illegal wildlife, offenders can be fined up to S$1,000 and have to forfeit the animals.
Importation, possession or sale of any CITES-protected species without CITES permits is also an offence punishable with a fine of up to S$50,000 per CITES-listed animal - to a maximum total S$500,000 - and up to two years' imprisonment.
If the animals were subjected to unnecessary suffering or pain, those convicted may be liable to an addition fine of up to S$10,000 and up to 12 months in jail.