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The Straits Times
April 19, 2023
The National Parks Board (NParks) is investigating an alleged case of animal abuse after a video showing a group of men beating and subsequently killing a snake in Boon Lay was shared on social media.
In the video, which was shared on Facebook by the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) on Wednesday in an appeal for information, a group of people can be seen using plastic pails and crates to hit a reticulated python at Boon Lay Place Market and Food Village.
Acres said it received the video from a member of the public the night before.
The python, which appeared to be over 2m long, is then taken next to a food stall, where a man can be seen using a cleaver and repeatedly hacking it to death.
Throughout the entire video, the sound of cheers and laughter from bystanders can be heard. An embedded caption asks viewers to watch till the end.
Dr Adrian Loo, the group director of wildlife management at NParks, said it is an offence under the Wildlife Act to kill, trap or take any wildlife without the Director-General’s approval. Offenders can be fined up to $50,000, jailed for up to two years, or both if the offence is committed in relation to protected wildlife.
Acres co-chief executive Anbarasi Boopal said the violence seen in the video was “very disturbing”.
She said: “It was not like the men were trying to defend themselves from the python. Instead, they were cornering it and beating it. The sad reality is that we often see this happening to reptiles because they are perceived to be scarier, and I think there needs to be greater deterrence to prevent such things from reoccurring.”
Ms Boopal added that she had visited the market on Wednesday morning to interview stallholders and cleaners in hopes of finding out how recently the incident happened, as well as the identities of the men.
She said she found that many people heard of the incident taking place in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, but none of them witnessed it. Her search for the men’s identities also did not yield anything concrete.
In its appeal, Acres urged witnesses or those who recognise the people seen in the video to reach out either through its 24-hour rescue hotline on 9783-7782 or its e-mail address at email@example.com
Meanwhile, Dr Loo advised people who encounter snakes in public to observe from a safe distance. They should also stay calm and back away slowly, giving it space to retreat.
“Do not approach or attempt to handle the snake. The snake should be left alone, especially if it is in its natural habitat.”
If assistance is required, the public can call NParks’ 24-hour Animal Response Centre on 1800-476-1600.
In a written parliamentary reply in September 2021, National Development Minister Desmond Lee said the authorities investigated about 1,200 cases of alleged animal cruelty and abuse each year between 2017 and 2020.
In that time, 23 offenders were jailed, while another 40 were charged in court and fined. Compound fines were issued to 113 of them, and 87 received warning letters.
APPEAL FOR EYE WITNESS: GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING On 18th April 2023, 11:25pm, ACRES hotline received this screen recorded video from a concerned member of public from a story that is no longer available - the video shows a man and five others violently hitting a protected species Reticulated python, using crates at the bicycle stand of Boon Lay Place market. They later bring the python to notice board area beside a food stall and use a cleaver to chop the snake's head until they confirm that the poor snake is dead. Our investigations and interviews at 7am onsite today (19 April 2023) indicate that there are police cameras and some recollected a snake sighting at 1:30am 18 April 2023 (Tue) . ACRES is shocked and disturbed by the celebratory tone and all the cheering in inflicting suffering and death to a voiceless protected native species, with no indication of calling someone for help (NParks or ACRES). ACRES has submitted all the relevant information to NParks, who is now investigating this further. It is alarming that despite many educational efforts, violence towards the voiceless still lurks in our society. Such incidents involving killing/hurting snakes have been happening repeatedly, and we hope that this case will result in prosecuting the individuals involved, serving a severe deterrence for the future of our animals in the community – whether a cute cuddly animal or a scaly reptile that many of us may be fearful of. If you know of any individual in this video or have witnessed this act, please reach out to us at our 24-hour hotline 97837782 or email firstname.lastname@example.org by whatsapp/email/call. All information will be kept confidential. #appealforeyewitness #AnimalCruelty #SgWildlife
Posted by ACRES: Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Singapore) on Tuesday, April 18, 2023
Those who are found to have committed an act of animal cruelty can be fined up to $15,000, jailed for up to 18 months, or both if they are first-time offenders.
Repeat offenders, on the other hand, face a maximum fine of $30,000, a jail term of up to three years or both.