Issues Relating to Wildlife
No to Poisoning Pigeons
Poisoning pigeons is cruel and inhumane and the SPCA urges members of the public and the Town Councils to consider humane alternative methods of bird control.
Culling of the pigeons as a means of bird population control, is not effective. A case in point is a culling programme conducted in Basel, Switzerland, a city that had a population of approximately 20,000 pigeons. From 1961 to 1985, about 100,000 pigeons were culled by shooting and trapping.
Despite this, the population remained stable (Source: Animal Aid, UK).
In comparison, in 1988 a group called Pigeon Action was founded to provide an ecological and long-term solution to Basel’s pigeon issue. They implemented a programme of public education campaigns, which warned against feeding pigeons, and installed pigeon lofts from which eggs were removed.
As a result, the population was halved within four years.
In 2008, the SPCA attended a scene of pigeon poisoning, where we retrieved several birds that were reported unconscious and others that were having difficulty flying. Had they been left in the environment in this state, they would have been susceptible to road accidents or been attacked by predators. Being disposed of in bags to suffocate, while still alive, was an additional issue in this case, that SPCA had to deal with.
Poisoning puts other species at risk too (no matter what precautions are taken) and the case of the deaths of cats and birds at Pasir Ris Park reported in the media in July 2015 comes to mind.
It is evident that culling, and specifically poisoning, is an inhumane method of animal management. Performing the exercise in a public place and leaving dying birds in plain sight of the public (including young children) may also desensitise people to the very act of killing and the suffering of the animals.
No To Releasing Animals On Vesak Day (Why It Does More Harm Than Good)
Turtles, fish, and birds are usually freed at temples, reservoirs, ponds, parks, and beaches as a symbolic gesture of compassion on Vesak Day, the day that celebrates Buddha’s birth and his enlightenment.
While we are grateful for such kind intentions and thoughts, freeing animals does more harm than good.
- The process of release could be stressful for the animals.
- Many pet shop animals cannot survive in the wild as they no longer have the ability to find food and shelter on their own. They are also used to living in special habitats, so releasing an animal into the wrong habitat will cause it to suffer and die.
- Releasing foreign animals into our environment disrupts the balance of our local ecosystem.
- Foreign animals who are not indigenous to our country will compete with our local wild animals for food, shelter, nesting areas, and living space. This threatens the natural balance of our local ecosystem.
- Foreign animals may transmit diseases to other wild animals.
- Indigenous local animals may not have immunity against certain diseases carried by infected foreign animals. If wild animals are infected, these foreign diseases may be transmitted to humans.
In Singapore, it is against the law to release any animal into our public parks, reservoirs, nature reserves and other places. Those caught releasing animals can be fined up to $50,000, jailed for up to 6 months, or a combination of both.
No To Keeping Wild Animals As Pets
Snakes, star tortoises, iguanas, tarantulas, scorpions, salamanders, sugar gliders, hedgehogs, slow lorises, and gibbons are examples of wild pets.
Keeping wild animals as pets is banned in Singapore. The sale or (even display) of these animals is an offence under Singapore law.
Under the Wild Animals and Birds Act, any person who kills, takes or keeps any wild animal or bird (other than those specified in the Schedule) without a licence shall be guilty of an offence.
Why should we not keep them as pets?
- They may introduce and spread diseases to humans and domestic animals.
- Threatens the survival of endangered species.
- Causes many wild animals to suffer and die.
For example, to capture baby orangutans, poachers kill their mothers who may protect them. It also makes the poacher’s job easier because instead of running away, the baby orangutans cling to their mothers’ dead body in fright.
- The welfare of the animals may be compromised due to reasons such as unsuitable living conditions, poor diet, and pet owner’s lack of knowledge of the proper care for the animal.
For example, Star Tortoises are terrestrial. This means they live on land only and cannot swim. The Star Tortoise is particularly sensitive and fragile. The species is extremely sensitive to respiratory problems if kept in conditions that are too cold or too damp.
- Many wild animals die while they are being transported in poor conditions.
No To Kampung Fishing
We have received feedback from parents that the fish used in these kampung settings for children to fish often get killed or injured as children wade in the pool and step on them. Some of these fish also die from trauma due to the children’s lack of knowledge in handling. The small nets and plastic pails used during this activity exposes these delicate creatures to an extreme amount of stress.
These fish become pets acquired on impulse in an atmosphere of excitement, without any consideration for the animals’ care once the children leave the kampung.
Often, such settings allow children to take the fish home in plastic bags or ill-equipped plastic containers that are not suitable for sustaining the fish’s life. Because these animals are not well taken care of, they usually die shortly after, either on the way home or very soon after they’re brought home.
Participating in such activities gives our children the impression that living things can be regarded as playthings for amusement.
Contrary to what such settings may claim to instill in children, this does not teach our future generations to respect life.
Instead of trying to educate our children through this cruel sport, we can take our child on trips to visit local animal shelters, nature reserves (e.g. Sungei Buloh, Bukit Timah, etc.) or pond habitats to observe animals in their undisturbed natural environment.
Teachers can also invite local animal welfare groups to their schools to give talks or workshops for the children; some of these local animal welfare groups (e.g. the SPCA or ACRES) have existing education programmes, and can sometimes bring along an animal for a short interaction session with the students.
Help us stop this hidden form of animal cruelty. There are many other ways to teach your child how to love the environment and respect life.