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  The Straits Times Forum 9 Feb 06
How were tarantulas smuggled in?
Letter from Shirley Woon Li Lin (Ms)

The Straits Times 7 Feb 06
Tarantulas found abandoned
by Radha Basu

ABANDONED by the kerbside near Bartley Road, the plastic bags looked innocuous enough. But on close inspection, volunteers from an animal welfare group were shocked to find seven large tarantula spiders flaying their hairy legs, each locked in its own plastic container.

Alerted by an anonymous caller, the volunteers from the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, or Acres, made the shocking discovery on Sunday night. It was the second tarantula find in less than two weeks.

Acting on a tip-off, officers from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) found six tarantulas in a Choa Chu Kang flat on Jan 24. The Singapore Zoo is currently identifying the species of the tarantulas found on Sunday, though Acres believes that at least two are Mexican Red Knees, a highly endangered variety of the spider.

It is illegal to keep wild or endangered species as pets in Singapore.

Acres foresees an increase in cases of such pets being abandoned following a new law that dramatically increases the penalty for keeping illegal pets.

The Endangered Species (Import and Export) Bill was passed by Parliament last month. It is currently awaiting presidential approval, the final legislative process before a bill becomes law.

Under the old law, those who possessed or traded in endangered animals could be fined a maximum of $5,000 for every species or type of animal he kept. The new law plans to raise the fine to $50,000 for each animal, subject to a maximum $500,000 fine per case.

The president of Acres, Mr Louis Ng, is one of those who made the discovery on Sunday. He suspects that the impending change in law had something to do with the find. 'Under the new law, the offender could be fined $100,000 for keeping the two endangered Red Knee tarantulas,' Mr Ng told The Straits Times. If all seven tarantulas are declared endangered, the offender could stand to lose $350,000. Under the old law, the penalty would not have been more than $5,000.

Acres fears that cases of potentially dangerous animals being abandoned in public areas may well go up because of the impending law and AVA figures appear to support such concerns.

A total of 21 animals were surrendered or confiscated by AVA officials last month, compared to about 12 a month last year.

Channel NewsAsia 6 Feb 06
Seven tarantulas rescued near Bartley Road
By Hasnita A Majid

SINGAPORE : Less than two weeks after the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority or AVA confiscated six pet tarantulas from an HDB flat, seven more were rescued by the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES).

The tarantulas from at least four species were found in two plastic bags in the Serangoon area near Bartley Road. Some of the tarantulas are at least 11cm long. Two of the tarantulas were identified as the Mexican Redknee Tarantula - an endangered species.

Under the law, anyone who keeps an endangered animal without a permit can be fined up to $50,000 for each animal, and face a jail term of up to two years. The tarantulas have been handed over to the AVA.

The Straits Times Forum 9 Feb 06
How were tarantulas smuggled in?
Letter from Shirley Woon Li Lin (Ms)

I REFER to the reports 'Tarantulas found abandoned' (ST, Feb 7) and 'Deadly spiders seized from Choa Chu Kang flat' (TNP, Feb 2).

As a mother of two, I am deeply concerned about such reports. According to the TNP report, 'Tarantulas carry a certain amount of venom and they bite, much like the sting of a bee or wasp. Some people develop a allergic reaction from the bites and this can be fatal'.

I wonder if those who kept them knew enough about these spiders. How did they get in? How could they have passed our very strict customs control? I hope more can be done not just to fine these people who brought them in but to stop them even before these creatures are smuggled in.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to have these tarantulas multiplying and creating a colony.

ACRES website
Related articles on Singapore: wildlife trade and release of pets into our wild places
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