Since 2001, ACRES has conducted regular undercover investigations to determine whether there is an illegal trade in certain wild animal products in Singapore and, if so, what are the levels of trade. Findings have been published in reports, which you can download by following the links below.
Results from these investigations have been passed to the authorities, and as a result there have been nationwide crackdowns on the illegal wildlife trade, with numerous traders and owners of prohibited wild animals and wildlife products have being prosecuted or receiving warning letters.
2022 REPORT: SURVEY INTO PET SHOP WELFARE CONDITIONS FOR BIRDS IN SINGAPORE AND RECOMMENDATIONS
ACRES conducted an undercover investigative survey from October 2020 to February 2021 into the conditions of shops in Singapore displaying and selling birds. These conditions are a requirement under the Animals and Birds Act (Chapter 7, Section 80) Animals and Birds (Pet Shop and Exhibition) Rules. From the results of the investigation, there appears to be flouting of the Pet Shop Licence Conditions, and poor standards in over 61% (19 out of 31 shops) of the pet shops investigated. In 2016, ACRES’s investigation findings revealed 27 out of 36 shops (75%) [Insert attached file 2016 bird report] flouted at least one condition that is directly related to the welfare of the birds.
Even though there is an improvement from the previous investigation, these findings highlight an urgent need for review of the current conditions for display of birds in pet shops.
Recommendations: The current (as of Feb 2022) pet shop licensing conditions are very subjective and the two investigations in 2016 and 2021 have identified that they need urgent review on the following items:
(i) Clearly define what “overcrowding” means for different group of birds;
(ii) Recognise the diverse needs of various species of birds sold in the conditions by defining “compatible species” and “suitable perches”;
(iii) Recognise the complexity of behaviours and needs of the diverse species of birds sold, and lay out conditions beyond simply “must be able to move freely and comfortably and their tails and outspread wings should not touch the sides of the cage”; and
(iv) Recognise the complexity of behaviours and needs of the diverse species of birds kept by public, and incorporate them into the animal welfare code for pet owners in Singapore. Most birds such as doves are kept in appallingly tiny cages in households which does not allow any form of natural behaviour for the bird, but meets only food and water provision needs. Detailed recommendations can be found in the full report here.
Update as of 18 Feb 2022: In January 2022, ACRES met with NParks on the findings and mainly the recommendations for the review of the pet shop licensing conditions for birds and code of animal welfare for (pet) bird owners. Similar to the animal welfare legislative committee, ACRES proposed focus group discussions to engage relevant stakeholders to improve the welfare conditions of these birds, which NParks welcomed. NParks shared that there is an ongoing review of the pet shop licensing conditions and will look into ACRES’s recommendations. ACRES looks forward to working closely with NParks and the relevant stakeholders on the review of licensing and welfare conditions for bird shops and bird owners.
AN INVESTIGATION INTO PET SHOP CONDITIONS FOR BIRDS IN SINGAPORE 2016
We conducted an undercover investigation in August-September 2016 into the conditions of licensed pet shops in Singapore displaying and selling birds. We examined those conditions which could be evaluated solely on visual examination. We investigated a total of 45 shops displaying and selling birds.
Out of the 36 shops that displayed birds for sale, 27 pet shops (75%) breached one or more of the Pet Shop Licence Conditions. The breaches were obvious upon a purely visual examination. As such, members of the public are equally capable of monitoring pet shops in Singapore. The public is encouraged to be the check and balance of the pet industry – to complement AVA’s efforts – as consumer demand wields much influence over industry practices. In order to improve industry standards, we recommend that AVA actively educates the public on the animal welfare conditions applicable to pet shops and advise consumers to make responsible choices.
We also surveyed the online advertisements on sale of birds from June 2016 to August 2016 respectively. Four platforms were chosen to conduct the survey. The online advertisements on sale of birds revealed a total of 655 advertisements online, with 273 of the 655 (41.7 %) of the ads for CITES listed bird species. The Animals and Birds Act also requires that any person keeping animals and birds in captivity for sale, export or exhibition in any place should be licensed by the AVA. The presence of online advertisements without licensed premises and the resulting enforcement challenges on ad-by-ad basis raise serious concerns on uncontrolled online trading in live animals.
Full investigation report here.
AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE ILLEGAL TRADE IN TIGER PARTS IN SINGAPORE 2015
A two-month undercover investigation by the ACRES Animal Crime Investigation Unit has revealed a significant decline in the trade in tiger parts in shops in Singapore.
Conducted between March and April 2015, ACRES found only 4 out of 153 (2.6%) jewellery and antique shops in Singapore offering alleged tiger teeth and claws for sale, compared to a similar ACRES investigation in 2010 where 59 out of 134 (44.0%) jewellery and antique shops in Singapore offered alleged tiger parts for sale.
Jewellery and antique shops were targeted in the 2010 and 2015 investigations as tiger parts are sought-after by reason of the belief that they bring good luck to the bearer, and will protect the bearer against evil.
During the covert island-wide investigation this year, more than half of the shopkeepers approached told investigators that the sale of tiger parts was prohibited by authorities, or required permits. Several shopkeepers said they stopped selling tiger parts after the authorities fined them and confiscated their products several years ago. 1 shopkeeper claimed to have known of the prohibition because of an investigation conducted by an animal welfare organisation about 5 years ago.
Even the shops found during the 2015 investigations to be offering alleged tiger parts for sale did so knowing it was illegal. A total of 13 pieces of alleged tiger parts were offered for sale and prices ranged from S$70 to S$538.