I am glad these two leopard cats seized from a flat in Singapore will be returned to Malaysia.
They were kept illegally and rescued following a tip-off in July 2018. DNA analyses confirmed they were not from Singapore. Instead they matched with known Malaysian animals.
This process highlights the key roles of wildlife groups, including wildlife rescue by ACRES: Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Singapore), government agencies (then AVA and NParks), and zoo (Wildlife Reserves Singapore) working together to fight wildlife crime and care for the animals.
Also, local biodiversity research was necessary to determine these leopard cats were not from Singapore (well done Tekong, Western Catchment and Central Catchment leopard cats!). The genetic work was done by a government lab and results were compared with Singapore leopard cat DNA sequences.
I feel the $500 fine seems light for the trouble caused. The staff hours, genetic testing, husbandry costs, and prosecution work probably adds up to thousands of dollars. Plus, the trauma these animals have to endure cannot be compensated.
The illegal wildlife trade is harmful to the environment, where the population and ecology are affected, and it hurts the welfare of the animals involved. I hope animal lovers are aware and do not support it.
Chandra, A. 2020. 2 endangered Asian leopard cats rescued from HDB flat to be returned to wild in Malaysia. Today. <https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/2-endangered-asian-leopard-cats-rescued-hdb-flat-be-returned-wild-malaysia-nparks>