Acres wildlife rescue hotline no longer 24 hours , Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Acres wildlife rescue hotline no longer 24 hours

The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) will stop providing round-the-clock rescue services for wild animals from June 15, due to a lack of funds amid a rise in creatures saved by the charity.

For the first time since the organisation launched a 24-hour hotline nearly two decades ago, its phone will be manned from only 7am to 1am daily.

An Acres spokeswoman told The Straits Times that calls to the hotline have surged by 50 per cent, and the number of animals that Acres treats has increased in the past four years.

In the financial year of 2023 – between April 1, 2022, and March 31, 2023 – the organisation received 15,000 calls, up from 9,800 calls for the 2019 financial year, she said.

This averaged to 1,250 calls a month for financial year 2023, with wildlife rescues resulting solely from these calls averaging at 375 monthly.

This increase could be due to many factors, like more interest in wildlife during the Covid-19 pandemic, and such animals being drawn closer to residential estates, resulting in increased encounters, she said.

She added that Acres would need to hire more staff to cope with the increase, without elaborating on the numbers.

According to Acres’ annual reports online, calls about wildlife from the public have steadily increased since the 2019 financial year, when calls rose by about 20 per cent compared with the previous financial year.

Three years later, the call volume peaked at 18,528 calls – the most in the organisation’s history to date.

Native wildlife like pangolins and common palm civets, as well as exotic animals from the illegal pet trade such as tortoises, are just a fraction of species the charity has saved because of these calls.

The spokeswoman said: “We tried various means to manage the additional work with varied success, such as by encouraging volunteerism and purchasing a quick response vehicle for use in suitable situations to supplement our rescue van.”

The move to reduce hotline hours to 18 hours was chosen to minimise inconvenience to callers, as fewer than 19 calls are received each month between 1am and 7am, she added.

During these hours, those who contact Acres on WhatsApp via its hotline will receive a catalogue of ways to deal with common scenarios involving wildlife, such as instructions to help baby birds and grounded bats.

They will also be directed to other organisations with 24-hour hotlines – the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the National Parks Board – that they can turn to for animals requiring urgent rescue.

The new operational hours also apply to the Wildlife Crime reporting component of the hotline as well, she said.

Those who wish to make a report also turn to an online Crime Reporting Form.

Having recently obtained approval from the authorities, Acres plans to expand its facility to make full use of its 2ha land, after the plot was cleared of contamination.

The Acres spokeswoman said: “As we expand as an animal welfare organisation, we will continually assess our human resource needs and fund raise to engage additional staff to meet anticipated needs.

“We will be doing this in tandem with expansion of the sanctuary and our campaign work.”

The public can also volunteer for Acres Wildlife Rescue or Animal Care, follow Acres’ donation drives, or donate through this website.

Those who encounter wild animals can refer to this advisory by Acres.