Illegal to release animals into S'pore waters: PUB & NParks after alligator gar carcass washed ashore at MacRitchie

Offenders can be fined up to S$50,000.

Ashley Tan | February 18, 2021, 02:38 PM

The monstrous-looking carcass of an alligator gar captured netizens' imaginations after it washed ashore a bank at MacRitchie Reservoir recently.

With its bizarre appearance, the photo of the decomposing alligator gar went viral.

Alligator gars are an invasive species and not native to Singapore. They originate from North America.

Those found in Singapore's freshwaters now could have been individuals previously kept as pets and subsequently released.

These fish are sold in the local aquarium trade, but due to their voracious appetite and ability to grow to great lengths, often outgrow tanks at home.

Released animals can pose threat to native species

In response to the incident, PUB and the National Parks Board (NParks) said in a joint statement that the gar carcass was removed on the morning of Feb. 15.

Alligator gars have been reported in Bedok Reservoir, Pandan Reservoir, and Marina Reservoir.

NParks also reminded members of the public not to release animals into local water bodies.

Invasive species like the alligator gars and red-eared sliders could pose a threat to native animals and local ecosystems.

NParks said it has observed that some species of non-native wild animals have established populations in Singapore.

If their populations continue growing, they will compete for food and natural resources with native biodiversity.

It is illegal to release animals into reservoirs and waterways and offenders may be fined up to S$3,000.

Under the Parks and Trees Act, offenders caught releasing animals in parks and nature reserves can be charged and fined up to S$50,000.

Under the Wildlife Act, offenders caught releasing wildlife may be fined up to S$5,000.

Over the past 10 years, over 20 individuals have been "enforced against" by both NParks and PUB for illegally releasing animals.

To further raise awareness on the issues surrounding the release of animals into the wild, NParks and PUB, as well as other government agencies, student and volunteer groups, will conduct educational and outreach activities.

Members of the public can call the PUB/NParks hotline at 1800-2255-782 (1800-CALL-PUB) or 1800-476-1600, if they spot anyone releasing animals and wildlife.

Top photo from Karen Lythgoe / FB