SINGAPORE, Dec 8 — A 52-year-old man who tried to smuggle 40 live birds through Woodlands Checkpoint in 2018 was sentenced to six months’ jail yesterday.
Rosly Abdul Rahim, a Singaporean, had been offered S$100 (RM422) to take the birds — most of them endangered — from Malaysia to Singapore.
He kept the animals in two cardboard boxes underneath the rear passenger seats of his car. Due to the poor conditions in which they were held, including a lack of water and food, 14 of the birds died soon after they were seized.
Rosly earlier pleaded guilty to 13 charges of failing in his duty of care of an animal owner under the Animals and Birds Act, importing animals without a licence, and importing a scheduled species under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act.
Another 34 similar charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.
The court heard that on December 19, 2018, Rosly met his friend, identified as Roy Maran, who offered him the job. Rosly agreed as he needed the money.
The other man then told him to collect the birds at the Larkin Bus Interchange in Johor Baru and to pass them to him after entering Singapore.
Rosly told the authorities that he did as instructed, with a man handing him the birds in the cardboard boxes at the bus interchange. He then drove across the Causeway to Woodlands Checkpoint.
Thirty birds were crammed into two separate compartments in one box, while the remaining 10 birds were kept in small individual compartments in the other box. They had some dried food but had no access to water, and the boxes were poorly ventilated as well.
The animals comprised 29 Fischer’s lovebirds, four sun conures and three crimson-bellied conures, all of which are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).
Cites regulates the international trade of wild animals and plants to ensure that it does not threaten their survival. Singapore became a signatory to the convention in 1986.
There were also three lesser green leafbirds and one peach-faced lovebird, which are not endangered.
Among the birds, 27 were still at the infant stage and incapable of feeding themselves independently. They would have required continuous careful care and attention in order to survive, National Parks Board (NParks) prosecutor Packer Mohammad told the court.
They would also have been thrown around within the boxes during the journey. Packer added: “Birds, especially young infant birds, should not have been transported in this way which put them at high risk of getting injured and stressed out.”
Officers heard unusual noises during inspection
On the afternoon of December 21, 2018, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officers checked Rosly’s car and heard some unusual noises. They discovered the boxes upon lifting the rear passenger seats.
When they questioned Rosly, he admitted there were birds inside and he could not explain whether they had been properly quarantined and tested prior to being brought in. Malaysia had just had an outbreak of avian influenza a few months earlier.
Packer said it was unlikely that the birds had undergone the necessary pre-export isolation, testing and health examination by a veterinarian.
After Rosly was nabbed, the birds were seized and quarantined for observation. Five days later, 14 of the birds died and were found to be in a dehydrated state.
“The 14 birds dying soon after being smuggled indicates that they could not tolerate the stressful conditions of the transportation,” the prosecutor told the court.
For importing an endangered species, Rosly could have been jailed for up to two years or fined up to S$50,000, or both.
For each offence of importing animals without a licence and failing in his duty of care, he could have been jailed for up to a year or fined up to S$10,000, or both. — TODAY