SINGAPORE: The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) on Saturday (Aug 10) thwarted an attempt to smuggle 815 birds through Woodlands Checkpoint.
The Malaysia-registered bus was stopped for security checks upon arrival at the checkpoint at around 7am on Saturday, ICA and National Parks Board said in a joint news release.
During the inspection, officers found signs of modification around the rear tyres of the bus.
“Their suspicions were further aroused when they heard chirping sounds coming from within the bus,” the news release added.
“Upon scrutiny, officers uncovered 15 containers of 815 birds from modified compartments above the rear tyres of the bus, making it the largest seizure of ornamental birds in Singapore in recent years.”
The 35-year-old Malaysian driver, who did not have a valid health certificate and import permits, was referred to the National Parks Board (NParks) for investigations, it added.
Only about 600 of the birds survived and are being cared for and quarantined at NParks' facilities.
The 815 birds consisted of five species: 38 white-rumped Shamas, 10 oriental magpie-robins, 141 oriental white-eyes and 626 munias.
Among these, the white-rumped Shama is notably becoming rarer in the region because of its popularity in the pet trade.
“Animals that are smuggled into Singapore are of unknown health status and may introduce exotic diseases, such as bird flu, into the country,” the authorities said. “The well-being of the animals will also be affected by poor conditions during the transportation process.
“In addition, the illegal wildlife trade impacts the biodiversity and ecosystems of both source countries and countries where the wildlife ends up in.”
Anyone who imports any animal without a permit faces a fine of up to S$10,000 and/or a jail term of up to one year. Additionally, anyone found guilty of causing unnecessary pain or suffering to any animal can be fined up to S$15,000 and/or be jailed up to 18 months.