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Man fined for picking up pangolin and placing it in another reservoir for 'safety' from ants

Man fined for picking up pangolin and placing it in another reservoir for 'safety' from ants

The pangolin, the most trafficked mammal on Earth, is prized for its meat and its unique scales, which are said to have medicinal properties. (AFP/ROSLAN RAHMAN)

SINGAPORE: A man was fined S$5,000 on Wednesday (Nov 4) for transporting a live pangolin from Upper Seletar Reservoir Park to Lower Peirce Reservoir, supposedly for its own "safety". 

Chong Soo Yong, 56, pleaded guilty to one charge under the Parks and Trees Act of displacing the pangolin at about 1.30am on Oct 6 last year.

The court heard that the National Parks Board (NParks) received feedback at about 2am that day that two men were spotted removing a pangolin from Upper Seletar Reservoir Park. 

This is a gazetted catchment area under the Parks and Trees Act.

Investigations revealed that Chong was with a person known only as Tony in a van when they saw a live pangolin on a grass verge near the road.

Both men approached the animal and Tony lifted it by the tail, placing it in a bag.

A passer-by saw what happened and asked them why they took the animal.

The men replied that there were "too many ants in that area" and they were removing the pangolin for its safety. The passer-by told them to release the pangolin, but they did not.

They got back in the van and drove off, and the passer-by followed closely in his car.

The men drove near Lower Peirce Reservoir and released the pangolin along a grass verge. 

Chong admitted to displacing the pangolin but could not give any details about Tony when asked. 

The prosecutor said Chong had no prior convictions, and asked for a fine of at least S$5,000.

He said there is only one other similar case of displacing an animal, where an offender was fined S$1,200 for displacing clams.

He said Chong was "not forthcoming" and would not reveal Tony's details. 

"And his reasons for displacing the pangolin for the presence of ants ... pangolins feed on ants!" the prosecutor added.

Chong had nothing to say in mitigation.

For displacing an animal from an area within the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, gazetted under the Parks and Trees Act, Chong could have been jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$50,000, or both.

Source: CNA/ll(gs)

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