A group of of bird photographers in Singapore have been caught on video allegedly using live fish stuffed with Styrofoam bits to bait critically-endangered Grey-headed Fish Eagles.
The incident took place on Aug. 16, 2015, at Little Guilin, a park in Bukit Gombak.
Such questionable methods employed to shoot nature photography was first reported on international birding blog 10,000 Birds, after a tip-off by one Charlie Gordon, an amateur nature photographer from Singapore who claims he has been bird-watching for close to 15 years.
However, besides the photos of the incident that have already been published, Mothership.sg has obtained video footage of the supposed modus operandi of the photographers.
We have received this video showing a group of nature photographers allegedly using live fish stuffed with Styrofoam bits to bait critically-endangered Grey-headed Fish Eagles.All this, so they can take better photos of the fish eagles.The incident took place on Aug. 16, 2015, at Little Guilin, a park in Bukit Gombak.Story coming up.Posted by Mothership.sg on Sunday, October 25, 2015
About three of the photographers can be seen working together tampering with the fish by first injecting its swim bladder with air via a syringe and then proceeding to stuff its mouth with polystyrene foam to prevent the fish from sinking.
The fish was then tossed into the water where it remained afloat as its natural buoyancy was affected.
From the 10,000 Birds report:
The purpose of using bait was to be able to capture action shots of the bird swooping in for the kill. Doing so, however, presented a few problems. First, the fish had to be alive and struggling otherwise the fish eagles would ignore it. Second, the fish needed to be afloat at the water’s surface so the photographers would know where to point their lenses in anticipation of an eagle’s approach.
These photographers came up with an utterly horrifying solution: A photographer used a twig he picked off the ground to stuff pieces of white material into the fish’s mouth. These were polystyrene foam chunks (also known as styrofoam), used to ensure that the fish does not sink but instead remains afloat on the water’s surface.
Here's the problem: This group of photographers was baiting these birds with fish that were stuffed with inedible man-made products that in all likelihood will adversely affect, if not kill, any creature that ate it.
There are currently only about 12 to 18 breeding grey-headed fish eagles left in the wild in Singapore.
This is not the first time nature photographers in Singapore have employed ethically-dubious methods to their craft.
Previously, some photographers were seen at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve callously removing and rearranging a juvenile pit viper snake just to take a better and easier shot of it.