Record 815 birds found in Malaysia-registered bus as ‘chirping sounds’ foil smuggling attempt at Singapore’s Woodlands

A total of 15 containers of 815 birds were uncovered from the bus. — Handout via TODAY
A total of 15 containers of 815 birds were uncovered from the bus. — Handout via TODAY

SINGAPORE, Aug 12 — First, officers noticed there were signs of modification around the bus’ rear tyres. Then, they heard chirping sounds.

Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers foiled a smuggling attempt on Saturday (August 10), when they uncovered a record 815 birds from a Malaysia-registered bus on arrival at Woodlands Checkpoint.

The smuggled birds were found in 15 containers stored in modified compartments above the bus’ rear tyres. They comprised of five species: 38 white-rumped shamas, 10 oriental magpie-robins, 141 oriental white-eyes and 626 munias.

The Malaysia-registered bus had modified compartments above its rear tyres. — Handout via TODAY
The Malaysia-registered bus had modified compartments above its rear tyres. — Handout via TODAY

Only around 600 of the 815 smuggled birds survived. The surviving birds are currently being cared for and quarantined at National Parks Board (NParks) facilities.

The bus was driven by a 35-year-old Malaysian man who did not possess a valid health certificate and import permits. The man has been referred to NParks for investigation.

Containers of birds were found within modified compartments above the bus’ rear tyres. — Handout via TODAY
Containers of birds were found within modified compartments above the bus’ rear tyres. — Handout via TODAY

In a joint statement yesterday, ICA and NParks pointed out the negative impacts of illegal animal smuggling.

They cautioned that animals smuggled into Singapore may introduce exotic diseases such as bird flu into the country. The animals’ well-being may also be affected by poor conditions during transportation. In addition, illegal wildlife trade impacts the biodiversity and ecosystems of both the source and destination countries of the smuggled animals.

The white-rumped shama is becoming increasingly rare throughout South-east Asia because of its popularity in the pet trade. — Handout via TODAY
The white-rumped shama is becoming increasingly rare throughout South-east Asia because of its popularity in the pet trade. — Handout via TODAY

“For example, the white-rumped shama, a popular songbird in South-east Asia, is becoming increasingly rare throughout the region because of its popularity in the pet trade,” they added.

Under the Animals and Birds Act, those who import animals without a permit could be jailed for up to a year, fined up to S$10,000 (RM30,000), or both. Anyone found guilty of causing unnecessary pain or suffering to any animal could be jailed for up to 18 months, fined up to S$15,000, or both.

For information on how travellers can bring animals back into Singapore from their overseas travels, the public can refer to the NParks website or the SG TravelKaki app. — TODAY

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