Man fined $8,000 for selling pregnant pangolin, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Man fined $8,000 for selling pregnant pangolin

What started off as a prank for one man resulted in an $8,000 fine, after he bought and later sold a pangolin through a Telegram chat group.

Lee Kian Han, 35, pleaded guilty on March 13 to one charge of selling a Sunda pangolin illegally to a National Parks Board (NParks) officer who posed as the buyer.

Two other charges were taken into consideration during his sentencing.

Sunda pangolins are a critically endangered and protected wildlife species in Singapore. It is illegal to remove them from the wild.

Lee, who was unrepresented, told the court that it all started off as a joke between him and his friend after seeing an advertisement for the sale of the pangolin on Telegram.

He had messaged the seller and asked questions such as: “Can I buy a leash for this animal” and “How big and what colour is it.”

In his mitigation, Lee said he did not believe that the seller, a Republic of Singapore Air Force regular, had the animal in his possession.

On March 1, 2024, Damien Tan Guan Rong, 21, who holds the rank of Military Expert 1 and is employed as a technician, was sentenced to a year’s probation.

He had pleaded guilty in January to one charge of selling a protected wildlife species without approval.

Tan had earlier admitted in court that he had removed the wild pangolin from a park connector along Yio Chu Kang Road on July 2, 2023.

Lee told the court that he was out drinking with friends on July 3, when Tan messaged him again to ask if he was interested in purchasing the pangolin.

Lee said: “At around 1am, I told him I don’t believe him. I told him if you really want to prove you have it, you drive down to my house, and I will buy it.”

At the time, Lee was staying at his then-girlfriend’s house at Jurong West. Tan and Lee agreed on a price of $1,400.

While he was in bed, Lee said Tan took a picture to show that he was at the void deck of the block.

Said Lee: “Out of curiosity, I went down because I wanted to see if he was a funny guy. I wanted to call his bluff.”

Tan then showed Lee the pangolin which was in a bag. The court heard this took place sometime around 2am on July 4, 2023.

Lee then transferred the money to Tan and took the pangolin home.

While he was at work later that day, Lee said he realised the joke went too far and decided to sell the pangolin.

When asked by District Judge Lorraine Ho why he did not report this to relevant wildlife authorities, Lee said he was afraid they would ask him about how and where he got the animal from.

He also admitted he wanted to recover the $1,400 he had spent on it.

Lee sold it on the same day for $1,600 to a NParks officer, who was posing as the buyer. Lee was arrested while handing over the animal to the “buyer”.

NParks sent it for examination and observation, and found that it was pregnant and “very hungry”.

For selling a protected wildlife species, Lee could have been fined up to $50,000 or jailed for a maximum of two years, or both.