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Authorities to ramp up enforcement at 19 locations to deter release of animals into the wild

SINGAPORE — Ahead of Vesak Day, authorities will be ramping up education and enforcement efforts at 19 locations to deter people from releasing animals into the wild.

Sunset Strip at the west end of My Waterway @ Punggol, which leads to Punggol Reservoir. TODAY file photo

Sunset Strip at the west end of My Waterway @ Punggol, which leads to Punggol Reservoir. TODAY file photo

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SINGAPORE — Ahead of Vesak Day, authorities will be ramping up education and enforcement efforts at 19 locations to deter people from releasing animals into the wild.

From this Saturday (May 16) to the end of the month, the National Parks Board (NParks) and PUB will extend their outreach to more parks and reservoirs at Lower Seletar, Bedok, Punggol, Serangoon and Marina Bay, in addition to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

This is part of an annual campaign, Operation No Release, which aims to spread public awareness on the dangers related to the release of animals into parks, nature areas, reservoirs and waterways. Vesak Day is on June 1 this year, and during this period, some devotees mark the festival by releasing animals.

Mr Ridzuan Ismail, PUB’s Director of Catchment and Waterway, said: “As with any ecosystem, the health and functionality of reservoir habitats is influenced by the diversity and ecology of aquatic organisms living within them. The release of animals by members of public into our reservoirs and waterways may have ecological impacts on our freshwater ecosystems. This year, we are extending our efforts to more locations and we hope to raise greater awareness on this issue.”

Volunteers and community groups, such as Waterways Watch Society, Punggol South River Watch Group and Toddycats!, will also help out, said NParks, PUB and the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore in a joint release today (May 13). They will keep a lookout for any sign of animal release at parks, nature reserves, reservoirs and waterways, and educate the public on the harm of releasing animals into the wild.

NParks Director of Conservation Wong Tuan Wah said: “Many of the released animals are unlikely to survive, and most often, face a slow and painful death, as they are unable to cope with their new surroundings.”

“Those that are bred or captured deliberately to be sold for ‘release’ usually become so stressed during their captivity that they are too weak to survive in the wild when released eventually,” he added.

Animals that were kept as household pets and released often may not survive as well as they do not have the natural instincts and ability to forage for food or fend for themselves in the wild. “It is irresponsible and cruel to abandon a pet,” said authorities, advising owners to re-home the pet.

Dying or dead animals may also have an impact on the environment, they noted.

And should the animal survive, they “often do so at the expense of native wildlife”, the authorities said. “They upset the ecological balance by preying on the native species, out-competing them for resources or introducing new diseases. For example, the American Bullfrogs are known to breed prolifically and compete with local frogs for food and space.”

First-time offenders caught releasing animals may be charged under the Parks and Trees Act and could be fined up to S$50,000, jailed up to six months, or both.

 

The list of parks, nature reserves, reservoirs and waterways taking part in Operation No Release 2015:

1. Bedok Reservoir

2. Bukit Batok Nature Park

3. Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park

4. Dairy Farm Nature Park (includes Singapore Quarry)

5. Jurong Lake

6. Kranji Reservoir Park

7. Labrador Nature Reserve

8. Lower Peirce Reservoir Park

9. Lower Seletar Reservoir

10. MacRitichie Reservoir Park

11. Marina Reservoir

12. Pandan Reservoir

13. Pulau Ubin

14. Punggol Reservoir

15. Punggol Waterway

16. Serangoon Reservoir

17. Springleaf Nature Park

18. Upper Peirce Reservoir Park

19. Upper Seletar Reservoir Park

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