‘You Buy They Die’ anti-wildlife crime campaign targets public’s demand for wildlife products;
WRS and TRAFFIC sign memorandum of understanding

Photo Credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore.
Photo Credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Singapore, 7 March 2015 – Growing affluence, purchasing power and globalisation all spell disaster for Southeast Asia’s wildlife as rising demand for their skin, meat and body parts is driving thousands of species in the region towards extinction.

Illegal wildlife trade is a multi-billion dollar business, and said to be among the most profitable illicit trades, alongside drugs, arms and human trafficking. This trade often deliberately targets highly threatened animals to meet the demand for exotic meat, traditional medicine, pets and luxury items, directly causing drastic declines in wildlife numbers.

In a bid to increase awareness on the threats faced by animals in the wild, Wildlife Reserves Singapore and TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia have come together to launch the ‘You Buy They Die’ campaign to fight wildlife crime on 7 March 2015.

Taking on a somber tone that is distinctly different from Singapore Zoo, River Safari, and Jurong Bird Park’s usual child friendly setting, the year-long ‘You Buy They Die’ anti-wildlife crime campaign will see interpretative placed in the three parks to educate the public on the seriousness of wildlife crime and how their buying decisions can help support the conservation of endangered wildlife.

Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “Illegal wildlife trade often goes unnoticed in our day to day living, but can have devastating consequences, pushing many animal species to the brink of extinction. It is imperative that people understand how the diverse markets for animal parts can severely threaten the survival of these species. We hope that by presenting the facts to our visitors, people will be more conscious and do their part for the conservation of endangered wildlife.”

Campaign interpretative feature harsh but realistic scenarios that animals face in the wild—images of rhinoceros butchered for their horns, dead pangolin mothers pregnant with babies, freshly killed bear cub cut open to remove the gall bladder, and dead bats hung up to be sold as meat—as an appeal to curb demands.

In addition to urging people to refrain from wildlife trade, the campaign aims to help the public recognise instances of wildlife crime, and appeal to them to report such cases to local authorities.

To reach out to children, Singapore Zoo will introduce the Ranger Ooz Education Trail from 14 – 22 March 2015 that will teach children through interactive exhibits and activity sheets what they can do to fight illegal wildlife crime. All children entering WRS parks will be given a ranger awareness kit for them to take home.

In conjunction with the launch of ‘You Buy They Die’ campaign, WRS and TRAFFIC signed a Memorandum of Understanding to further strengthen and formalise their partnership.

“Fighting wildlife crime is everyone’s responsibility and we’re glad to see organisations like WRS take up the call. By investing funds and using their powerful reach to galvanize public support, they’re giving the effort an immense boost.” said Dr. Chris R. Shepherd, Regional Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia. “The key message to the public really is that everyone has a role to play in bringing about an end to the illegal wildlife trade.”

The two organisations have previously collaborated on ad hoc projects to curb wildlife crime, such as in-depth research on illegal wildlife trade, and helping regional authorities in wildlife conservation efforts through the provision of identification guides and training.

Committed to fighting illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade and ensuring the conservation of threatened wildlife, WRS is Singapore’s designated rescued wildlife centre for live confiscated wildlife. It has received and managed confiscated wildlife from the governing authority for over two decades.


Tattooing the tortoise and keeping Ploughshares out of the Illegal Trade
Tattooing the tortoise and keeping Ploughshares out of the Illegal Trade

Singapore, 16th December 2013 – Conservation organizations fighting to save one of the world’s most threatened tortoises from poachers are resorting to a drastic measure—engraving identification codes onto the animals’ shells to reduce their black market value.

Although fully protected, Ploughshare Tortoises are prized for their beautiful high domed shells, but are being pushed closer to the brink of extinction due to high demand as unique and exotic pets. Engraving a tortoise’s shell makes it less desirable to traffickers and easier for enforcement agencies to trace.

Found only in north‐western Madagascar, the tortoise is Critically Endangered and only an estimated 400 adults remain in the wild. Numbers have been devastated through illegal collection and export to meet the international demand for the pet trade, especially in South‐East Asia, where they are sold in markets particularly in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

In March, two smugglers were arrested with 52 Ploughshare Tortoises in suitcases while attempting to enter Thailand, where traders redistribute the animals to dealers locally and abroad. This was the largest ever seizure of Ploughshare Tortoises in Southeast Asia. One of the smugglers, a Malagasy woman was jailed, while the other, a Thai man, was released on bail.

This case exemplifies the increased audacity of smugglers, the urgency of the situation and the need for enforcement agencies to take the illegal trade in this species far more seriously. Based on seizures reported in the media, at least 86 Ploughshare Tortoises have been seized since 2010. Over 60% of these seizures occurred in Thailand while remaining seizures took place in Madagascar and Malaysia; with at least one of the shipments destined for Indonesia.

Four organisations – Wildlife Reserves Singapore, TRAFFIC, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Turtle Conservancy – are joining forces to hold a “Tattoo the Tortoise” event on 16th December at Singapore Zoo to raise awareness of the plight of the Ploughshare and to build support to fight trafficking in the species.

Singapore Zoo currently houses two Ploughshare Tortoises which were confiscated by the Agri‐Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore in 2009. The pair will be used to establish an ‘assurance colony’ in Singapore. The top shell of each tortoise will be engraved during this event – a first for South‐East Asia.

The event will include presentations by experts working on the conservation of these tortoises and an exhibition open to the public. These activities provide an opportunity for the public, governments and other relevant bodies to learn about the dire situation these animals face, and what they can do to save the Ploughshare Tortoises.

For further information, please contact:

Dr. Chris R Shepherd, Regional Director, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.
T: +6012 2340790, E: chris.shepherd@traffic.org

Ms Natt Haniff, Assistant Manager, Corporate Communications, Wildlife Reserve s Singapore
T: +65 6360 8659 / +65 9362 8115, E: natt.haniff@wrs.com.sg

Mr Richard Lewis, Madagascar Programme Director, Durrell Wildlife Conservati on Trust
E: Richard.Lewis@durrell.org

Ms Kaitlyn‐Elizabeth Foley, Program Officer and Grants Manager, Turtle Conserv ancy
T: +01 212 353‐5060, E: kaitlyn@turtleconservancy.org