SINGAPORE — A man who smuggled 40 birds into Singapore from Malaysia via the passenger seat of his car in 2018 was jailed for six months.
Rosly Abdul Rahim, 52, had conveyed the birds, 27 of which were newborn, in boxes on an unstable floor of the rear passenger seat without providing water and adequate ventilation, a National Parks Board (NParks) prosecutor told the court on Tuesday (7 December). Fourteen of the birds died during quarantine.
Rosly pleaded guilty to two counts of importing scheduled species without a license, two counts of importing without a license, and nine counts of failing to take steps to convey them in a manner which did not cause the birds unreasonable suffering. Another 34 counts of a similar nature were considered for his sentencing.
On 19 December 2018, Rosly had met a friend who offered him a job of transporting birds from Malaysia to Singapore for $100. As Rosly needed money, he agreed. He was instructed to collect the birds at the Larkin Bus Interchange in Johor Bahru and to pass the birds to the friend in Singapore.
At around 12pm on 21 December 2018, Rosly drove into Malaysia and collected two cardboard boxes containing the birds. Rosly placed them under the rear passenger seats of his vehicle to hide them from view.
As Rosly entered Woodlands Checkpoint, Immigration and Checkpoint Authorities (ICA) officers checked his car and asked him if he had anything to declare. Rosly claimed he had nothing to declare.
However, the officers heard some "unusual noises" coming from underneath the rear passenger seats. They then found two perforated cardboard boxes. Rosly then admitted that there were birds inside the boxes.
A total of 40 birds of five species were found. Of these, 36 were endangered birds comprising Fischer's Lovebird, Sun Conures and Crimson-bellied Conure.
Twenty-seven of the birds were newborn and were found to be incapable of feeding themselves.
While there was some dried food in the boxes, the birds had no access to water and had been kept in a stressful situation as they would not have been able to stabilise themselves in the manner they were transported.
The 14 birds that died had been in a dehydrated state.
The judge noted that Rosly had evaded veterinary protocols introduced to prevent the import of diseases, which was especially significant as Malaysia had an Avian influenza outbreak just three months prior to the offence.
Both public health and animal welfare were compromised, said the judge, as Rosly's main concern was to conceal the birds to avoid detection and no effort had been made to ensure their wellbeing.
NParks reminded all travellers that the import of all animals into Singapore requires its approval. "Animals that are smuggled into Singapore are from unknown sources, have unknown health status and may introduce exotic diseases into the country. The well-being of the animals will also be affected by poor conditions during the smuggling process," it added.
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