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SINGAPORE: Two live pythons were seized at Tuas Checkpoint on Thursday (Apr 7) after officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) conducted checks on a Malaysia-registered lorry that was transporting cement.

The snakes, identified as Reticulated Pythons, were uncovered in a styrofoam box, said ICA and the National Parks Board (NParks) in a joint media release on Saturday, adding that the smuggling attempt was thwarted.

“The styrofoam box, which was hidden in the lorry’s cabin area, was found to have multiple perforations on its sides,” the agencies said. 

“The Malaysian driver had initially claimed that the box contained food but upon further questioning, he admitted that it contained live snakes.”

The driver did not have valid import permits and he was referred to NParks for investigation, the authorities said.

The snakes were around 4.8m and 3.8m long. 

The Reticulated Python is a species protected under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). 

According to CITES, Appendix II lists species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but may become so unless trade is closely controlled. 

“Illegal trade in wildlife threatens biodiversity and disrupts ecosystems around the world, and can also pose serious health risks, as it evades biosecurity and sanitary controls,” said ICA and NParks.

“The poor conditions and manner under which animals are smuggled could also cause them unnecessary suffering and even death.

“As such, NParks strictly regulates the import of animals to prevent the introduction of exotic diseases into Singapore, safeguard the health and welfare of animals, and to tackle illegal wildlife trade.”

Under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, importing a scheduled species without a permit is an offence that carries a maximum penalty of S$50,000, a jail term of up to two years, or both. 

ICA and NParks reminded travellers against bringing live animals, including birds and insects, into Singapore without a proper permit.

“The public can refer to NParks’ website for more information on bringing back animals from overseas travels,” said the authorities. “The public can also help by not purchasing wildlife and keeping them as pets.”

Those with information on suspected illegal wildlife trade activities can report them to NParks at 1800 476 1600. Authorities said the information provided will be kept strictly confidential.