PETALING JAYA: More than 200 birds died following a botched attempt by a Malaysian bus driver to smuggle them into Singapore.
A Malaysia-registered bus driven by the 35-year-old male suspect was stopped for security checks at Singapore’s Woodlands Checkpoint from Johor Baru at about 7am on Saturday.
During checks, officers from the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) detected signs of modification around the rear tyres of the bus, said ICA in a joint statement with the National Parks Board (NParks).
“Their suspicions were further aroused when they heard chirping coming from within the bus.
“Upon scrutiny, the officers uncovered 15 containers of 815 birds inside modified compartments above the rear tyres of the bus, ” it said, adding it was the largest seizure of ornamental birds in Singapore in recent years.
Only around 600 of the birds survived. They are currently being cared for under quarantine at NParks’ facility.
The driver, who did not have valid health certificates and import permits, was referred to NParks for investigation.
The haul consisted of 38 white-rumped shamas (murai batu), 10 oriental magpie-robins, 141 oriental white-eyes and 626 munias (scaly-breasted munia and white-headed munia).
The white-rumped shama is a protected species in Malaysia under the Wildlife Conservation Act, while its conservation status in Singapore is classified as rare.
“The health status of animals smuggled into Singapore are unknown and may introduce exotic diseases, such as bird flu, into the country.
“The well-being of the animals will also be affected by poor conditions during the transportation process, ” said the statement.
“The illegal wildlife trade impacts the biodiversity and ecosystems of both source countries and the countries where the wildlife end up in.
“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.
“As such, NParks strictly regulates the import of animals to prevent the introduction of exotic diseases into Singapore, to safeguard the health and welfare of animals, and to tackle the illegal wildlife trade.”