Acres re­turns saved rep­tiles back to M’sia

The New Paper - - NEWS - ESTHER KOH

The An­i­mal Con­cerns Re­search and Ed­u­ca­tion So­ci­ety (Acres) sent six res­cued rep­tiles back to Malaysia yes­ter­day, the first time that it has done a mass repa­tri­a­tion.

It is part of Acres’ ef­forts to res­cue, re­ha­bil­i­tate and repa­tri­ate wild an­i­mals nabbed by il­le­gal traders for their meat or to be sold as pets.

Yes­ter­day’s batch con­sisted of four giant Asian tur­tles, cat­e­gorised as a vul­ner­a­ble species, and two elon­gated tor­toises, deemed an en­dan­gered species.

The first rep­tile to be suc­cess­fully re­leased back to the wild was Ra­hayu, a Malaysian giant tur­tle, in Fe­bru­ary last year.

IL­LE­GAL TRADERS

Acres’ deputy chief ex­ec­u­tive Kalai Vanan lamented that rep­tiles are preyed on by il­le­gal traders on a large scale.

“For now, we are fo­cus­ing on the repa­tri­a­tion of rep­tiles,” he told The Straits Times.

Most of the six rep­tiles were found wan­der­ing in open spa­ces such as roads be­fore they were res­cued.

One of them, a giant Asian tur­tle named Boltz, was res­cued in Oc­to­ber 2011 af­ter it had been run over by a truck.

It suf­fered se­vere in­ter­nal in­juries as well as a large, light­ning-shaped crack on his shell that in­spired his name.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Kalai, af­ter Boltz was res­cued seven years ago, it would look out of its cage long­ingly when­ever it rained.

This spurred Mr Kalai to build the out­door sanc­tu­ary in 2013, which cur­rently has about 160 wild an­i­mals.

Law Min­is­ter K. Shan­mugam, who was present at yes­ter­day’s repa­tri­a­tion, said: “Small as we are, Sin­ga­pore can make a dif­fer­ence (in wildlife con­ser­va­tion) world­wide. At least within Sin­ga­pore, we try and do the right things.”

Acres chief ex­ec­u­tive Louis Ng noted that his so­ci­ety had suc­ceeded in get­ting the au­thor­i­ties to mete out stiffer penal­ties to il­le­gal wildlife traders.

Those found guilty now face a max­i­mum fine of $50,000 and/or two years’ jail, on a per an­i­mal ba­sis. Pre­vi­ously, they faced a max­i­mum fine of $5,000 and/or a year’s jail on a per species ba­sis only.

ko­hes@sph.com.sg

TNP PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

Chief ex­ec­u­tive of Acres, Mr Louis Ng, with the res­cued tor­toises.

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