Singapore’s amazing ACRES

Last night a snake slithered under the washing machine and Sunday dinner was electrified by the gasping palpitations of the person who saw it as she walked past ; a breathless description of its tail to-ing and fro-ing, like a rattlesnake. A black snake, she thought it was.

Anyone – like me – who has no desire to co-habit with reptiles will empathize with my severe disinclination to take the spouse’s advice : just leave it alone. it will go away.

What to do ? Whom do you call ?

If you don’t know what to do when you find a snake in your home in Singapore, do what I did – call the police. 999. They will politely tell you to call ACRES, on 9783 7782. A kind, understanding voice on the other end will inform you that they will come, as soon as is possible, and remove the snake. In my case though, it was going to take time; they had two wildlife rescues called in and logged ahead of mine. Perhaps an hour. Or an hour and a half.

But, in the meantime, could I describe what kind of snake was it ? Colour ? Length ? Estimated width – one finger thick, two fingers thick ? Did I have a photograph of it ? I had no answers, given it was night, it was glimpsed by someone else and it had taken refuge beneath the washing machine. Their advice was to keep watch till they arrived, to ensure it was still beneath the washing machine, and if it did come out, to have an idea in which direction it was headed.

Which we did. For one and a half hours, lights blazing, feet up on a table, taking turns to whatsapp, call and stay in touch across three levels.

How much longer ?

Kala and Eugene from the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) arrived after 95 odd minutes, donned gloves and lifted the snake from behind the machine.

It was all over in less than a minute.

It was a common house snake, lycodon capucinus, non-venomous, searching for its dinner of geckos. Startled into refuge.

Smiles all round. Kala and Eugene refused any monetary appreciation; suggesting instead that we might want to donate to their cause.

It was 10.00 p.m., the end of a long day, yet Kala patiently answered our questions as we stood grouped, bathed in lamplight, beneath the thick blossoms of the yellow flame tree (peltophorum petrocarpum). No, there was nothing we could do to prevent further similar occurrences. If we saw a snake again, we should never approach it. Ideally, snap a picture. Or be able to describe it as best as possible. And just call them. 9783 7782.

Where is it now, I asked. Safely bagged, to be released in an appropriate location. Kala opened the door of the van. There was an eagle in a cage, badly injured and just rescued, a highly endangered species. It was a huddle of gleaming, wet feathers. No movement. The van was full of bags and cages and things.

Eugene gave me a leaflet. If a wild animal needs us, we’ll be there, it said. We believe that all wild animals deserve our compassion and respect, and the chance of life.

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The question is not can they reason ? nor can they talk ? but rather can they suffer ?                                                                                                     — Jeremy Bentham

ACRES’ Wildlife Rescue Team operates 24/7, rescuing wild animals in distress. In the past 5 years, they have been able to give over 8,000 wild animals a second chance at life. Working in shifts. With just one van, covering 719.1 square kilometres, day and night.

One van.

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What they need now, urgently, is another van. To save the straying, lost wildlife, the injured, the young, the confused, the endangered. To keep Singapore safe for humans and wildlife alike, protecting its myriad species.

If you are an animal lover who believes animals should be treated with compassion and respect – and wish to donate, do it online.

And you might want to take note of their number. 9783 7782.

Pix from the ACRES website and by PP Thomas.


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