SINGAPORE: A man captured on video killing a python in April has incurred a S$1,000 fine from the National Parks Board (NParks).
Ryan Lee, the NParks group director for wildlife management, confirmed last Thursday (9 Nov) that the board probed an incident involving the killing of a python.
As per reports from the Chinese media outlet 8World News, the investigation resulted in the imposition of a fine on the individual responsible for the python’s death.
Lee urges the public to contact the 24-hour Animal Response Centre at 1800-4761600 if they encounter snakes in public areas, emphasizing the importance of seeking professional assistance.
Furthermore, Mr Lee underscored the significance of maintaining a safe distance when observing snakes, advising the public to remain calm and allow the snake space to retreat.
It is crucial not to approach or attempt to handle the snake. Additionally, pet owners are reminded to keep their animals on a tight leash for their safety.
Mr Lee pointed out that snakes are typically timid creatures that prefer to avoid human interaction. While they may exhibit defensive behavior if they feel threatened, the general advice is to leave them undisturbed and allow them to move away naturally.
According to Singapore’s Wildlife Act, individuals caught killing wildlife without the approval of the NParks director-general for the first time may be subject to a fine of up to S$10,000 and/or a potential prison sentence of up to six months.
In April this year, the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) received a screen-recorded video from a concerned member of the public showing a group of six individuals violently attacking a python at the bicycle stand of Boon Lay Place market.
The video shows a man and five others hitting the python repeatedly using crates while laughter can be heard in the background.
Laughter can be heard in the video as the male hits the python
A man’s voice can be heard saying in Mandarin, “It (the python) ran out of strength”, while another replied, “No, it is stronger than you!”
The video then shows a man in a black shirt carrying the python to the notice board area beside a food stall, where others can be heard clapping.
At the end of the video, the man used a cleaver to chop off the python’s head.
After receiving the video, ACRES immediately conducted investigations and interviews on-site on the following morning, 19 Apr.
ACRES: shock and disturbance
In the Facebook post, ACRES expressed their shock and disturbance at the celebratory tone and cheering of the individuals who inflicted suffering and death on a voiceless protected native species.
The organization also noted that despite many educational efforts, violence towards animals still persists in society.
“ACRES has submitted all the relevant information to NParks, who is now investigating this further. ”
“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. ”
Hawker clarifies his motive: Not seeking heroism, just protecting elderly residents
8World News also disclosed that the person featured in the video is Chong Ruiqi, a hawker situated in Boon Lay Place market.
Recounting the incident to the reporter, Mr Chong mentioned that he had just concluded his work and was preparing to head home when a foreign worker urgently approached him, alerting him to the presence of a python outside.
Observing a group of youths surrounding the snake, Mr Chong acted swiftly to prevent it from entering the market. Without hesitation, he seized the snake, ensuring it did not slither into the market.
According to his account, a youth handed him a bucket, and while attempting to guide the python into it, the reptile turned back and bit his arm.
Faced with urgency, Mr Chong struck the snake, but it coiled around his arm. To force the snake to release its grip, he had no option but to forcefully slam it against the wall until it fell to the ground.
Mr Chong mentioned that after the snake fell, it rolled a few times, appearing to be near death. Out of compassion, he opted to use a knife to end its suffering.
He said, “I didn’t want to be a hero; I just didn’t want the snake to run into the market because there are many elderly people there, and they walk slowly. ”
“If the snake runs over there or hides, you don’t know where it is. I was afraid the snake would scare those elderly people.”
Mr Chong asserted that if he encounters a similar situation in the future, he won’t hastily resort to killing the snake but will instead promptly inform the authorities for assistance.
He further clarified that the laughter heard in the video was not his but that of onlookers.
Protected species in Singapore
The Reticulated python is a protected species in Singapore, a non-venomous constrictor that is endemic to the country.
While occasionally seen in urban areas, they play an important role in controlling pests such as rodents. These creatures are typically shy and will not attack unless provoked or threatened.
According to NPark, Singapore is home to about 67 species of snakes.
They can range from the brahminy blind snake – one of the world’s smallest snakes at about 20cm long and often mistaken for an earthworm – to the reticulated python, which can grow to a length of more than 9m.
Members of the public should keep their distance and call for professional help if they encounter snake species such as python. They will not attack unless disturbed or provoked.