Animal Law in Brunei

March 23, 2021Lu Shegay


Brunei is a country in the northern part of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia, completely surrounded by the Malaysian state of Sarawak. There is a wide variety of animals inhabiting Brunei, the most symbolic ones are a Bornean slow loris, a sun bear, a Proboscis monkey, a green crested lizard, bats, pythons, etc. Approximately 455 species of birds, 221 mammals, and 73 reptiles are endemic to the country. Brunei was the first country in Asia that banned shark finning in the country. The most pressing animal law issues in Brunei are dog beating and wildlife trafficking. Although the country has some regulations with regard to animals, the enforcement part remains weak, like in many other Asian countries.

Brunei issued several legislative acts to protect biodiversity. For instance, the Forest Act is one of the oldest laws of the country. It was based on British legal concepts and the Federated Malay States. This Act provides basic requirements and administrative regulations with regard to reservation of forest areas, forests’ production, as well as penalties for the violations.

Another legal instrument is the Wild Fauna and Flora Order that was enacted in 2007 as the national legislative tool of the CITES. It was issued to protect wild animals and plants of the country, specifically endangered species. This Order contains administrative procedures with regard to the implementation of CITES provisions.

Read the Brunei Report on Biodiversity here.

Photo by Francesco Ungaro from Pexels


Animals are mentioned in the Constitution of Brunei. Section 83 provides that "without prejudice to the generality of Clause (3), such Orders may be made with regard to any matters coming within the classes of subject hereinafter enumerated, that is to say—(d)transportation by land, air or water and the control of the transport and movement of persons, animals, and things."

Dogs Act

The Dogs Act in Brunei was enacted to provide regulations and administrative provisions with regard to dogs’ registration and other related things. For instance, Section 2 indicates that any dog over 3 months old is required to be registered, and non-compliance can result in a fine of $250 or in default imprisonment for 14 days. The repetition of the act can lead to a fine of $500 or in default imprisonment for 1 month. The law also prohibits leaving dogs outside without a badge (a metal label or badge provided by the registry agency). Allowing a dog outdoors without a badge is punished by a fine of $250 or in default imprisonment for 1 month. (Section 5)

Quarantine and Prevention of Disease Regulations

For the purposes of these Regulations, an animal includes birds but does not provide the full definition. These Regulations are considered subsidiary legislation. According to the Regulations, animals are not allowed to be “imported or transhipped from one ship to another within Brunei Darussalam, without the express permission in writing of the veterinary officer.” It also provides that any person importing animals is obliged to report in writing to the veterinary officer upon arrival and before entering or landing animals. (Section 4) The veterinary officer holds the right to refuse to enter or land an exported animal in Brunei Darussalam. Moreover, any person importing a dog or a cat “shall produce to the veterinary officer a certificate from a duly qualified veterinary surgeon that, at the time of despatch from the place of export, the dog or cat was free from rabies or similar disease and that, for 6 months prior thereto or from birth, it had been kept in a district in which no case of rabies or similar disease had occurred.” (Section 5)

"Green Crested Lizard (Bronchocela cristatella)" by berniedup is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Agricultural production

Brunei is a small country, and the agricultural business is not high. Although the country attempted to increase agricultural production, there was a lack of working class. While livestock agriculture is not popular in the country, Brunei has widespread practices of farming aquatic animals. No legislation on farm animal protection in Brunei was found at the moment of writing.

Wildlife Protection Act

There is the Wildlife Protection Act that covers general provisions for protecting wildlife, wildlife sanctuaries, and procedural regulations. The Act prohibits shooting, hunting, killing, capturing, or taking any animal, bird, fish, or reptile; taking or disturbing the nest or eggs of any bird; keeping or carrying any weapon or contrivance of any kind used for the taking, shooting, or killing of any animal, bird, fish, or reptile; possessing a trophy or flesh of any mammal, bird, fish, or reptile; etc. (Section 4(2)) Violations of such provisions are punished by a fine of $2000, $1000, or imprisonment for 6 months, depending on the type of the violation. (Section 4(3); Section 4(4))

Brunei has protected animals nationwide. The Act prohibits hunting, killing, or capturing such protected animals unless a person has a special permit. Non-compliance with these provisions results in imprisonment for 1 year and a fine of $2000. (Section 7) Those persons without a license are not allowed to sell, offer for sale, or possess any protected animal, trophy, or flesh of this animal. Violating this provision is punished by imprisonment for 6 months and a fine of $1000. (Section 8)

Fisheries Act

The Fisheries Act was enacted to protect and manage the marine biodiversity of Brunei. Fish, in accordance, with the Act, means “any of the varieties of marine, brackfish water or freshwater fishes, crustacea, aquatic mollusca, marine sponges, trepang, and other aquatic life, but does not include turtle or their eggs.” The authorized body can make regulations with regard to such activities as prohibiting any method of fishing, the use of traps or fishing nets; prescribing minimum weights and sizes of captured fish; etc. (Section 5)

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