Illegal ivory, pangolin scales worth S$1.3m seized by Singapore customs

The 0.8-tonne shipment contained 255 pieces of raw elephant tusks weighing about 505kg and pangolin scales weighing about 324kg.
Channel NewsAsia 17 Dec 15;

SINGAPORE: An illegal shipment of elephant tusks and pangolin scales – worth an estimated S$1.3 million – was seized by Singapore authorities last week.

The air shipment from Lagos, Nigeria was bound for Vientiane, Laos via Singapore when it was intercepted at the Changi Airfreight Centre last Saturday (Dec 12), the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and Singapore Customs said in a press release on Thursday.

The 0.8-tonne shipment contained 255 pieces of raw elephant tusks weighing about 505kg and pangolin scales weighing about 324kg. The shipment was labelled as “complete wigs of synthetic textile materials”, the release said.

This is the fifth largest seizure of illegal ivory by Singapore authorities since 2002, AVA and Singapore Customs said. A freight forwarding company is assisting AVA with the investigations.

“We have zero tolerance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species, their parts and products,” said Mr Chua Teck Hui, Singapore Customs’ Head of Air Checkpoints Branch. “We will continue to collaborate with other national and international enforcement agencies to curb wildlife trafficking.”

Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to which Singapore is a signatory, elephants and pangolins are endangered species. International trade in ivory and pangolin scales is prohibited without CITES permits.

The maximum penalty is a fine of S$50,000 per scheduled specimen, up to a maximum of S$500,000, or imprisonment of up to two years.

- CNA/cy

S$1.3m worth of illegal ivory, pangolin scales seized
Today Online 17 Dec 15;

SINGAPORE — An air shipment supposed to contain wigs turned out to be an illegal load of ivory and pangolin scales, estimated to be worth S$1.3 million.

The illegal shipment was discovered and seized at the Changi Airfreight Centre last Saturday (Dec 12) after officers from the Singapore Customs and Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) discovered 255 pieces of raw elephant tusks weighing about 505kg and pangolin scales weighing about 324kg.

The shipment, labelled “complete wigs of synthetic textile materials”, originated from Lagos, Nigeria and was en route to Vientiane, Laos.

This is the fifth largest load of illegal ivory seized by Singapore authorities since 2002, the Singapore Customs and AVA said in a news release today.

A freight forwarding company in connection with the shipment is assisting AVA with the investigations.

Elephants and pangolins are endangered species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to which Singapore is a signatory.

Under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, a CITES permit is required for any import, export or re-export of CITES wildlife and their parts and products. Offenders can be fined up to S$50,000 per scheduled specimen (not exceeding an aggregate of S$500,000) and/or jailed up to two years.

The same penalties apply to any transit or transhipment of CITES specimens through Singapore without proper CITES permits from the exporting/importing country.

“We have zero tolerance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species, their parts and products,” Singapore Custom’s Head of Air Checkpoints Branch Chua Teck Hui said. “We will continue to collaborate with other national and international enforcement agencies to curb wildlife trafficking.”

“The logistics industry plays a vital role in protecting the endangered species and tackling the illegal wildlife trade. AVA would like to remind all shipping, transport, logistics and freight forwarding companies to be prudent and exercise caution when accepting shipping and freight assignments to ensure that their companies are not implicated in wildlife trafficking,” said Ms Lye Fong Keng, the deputy director of the Quarantine & Inspection Group (Wildlife Section) at AVA.


$1.3m of ivory, scales seized en route to Laos
Janice Heng, My Paper AsiaOne 18 Dec 15;

AN AIR shipment of illegal ivory and pangolin scales, worth an estimated $1.3 million, was intercepted and seized by the authorities on Saturday at the Changi Airfreight Centre.

In a joint release yesterday, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and Singapore Customs said they had been working closely to detect and intercept shipments of illegal wildlife and wildlife products smuggled through Singapore.

The 0.8 tonne shipment originated from Lagos, Nigeria and was on its way to Vientiane, Laos via Singapore. The shipment was labelled "complete wigs of synthetic textile materials".

But when Singapore Customs and AVA officers inspected it, they found 255 pieces of raw elephant tusks weighing about 505kg and pangolin scales weighing about 324kg.

The shipment was seized, marking the fifth largest seizure of illegal ivory by the Singapore authorities since 2002. A freight forwarding company in connection with the shipment is assisting AVA with the investigations.

"We have zero tolerance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species, their parts and products," said Chua Teck Hui, head of Singapore Customs' Air Checkpoints Branch, Singapore Customs.

"We will continue to collaborate with other national and international enforcement agencies to curb wildlife trafficking," he added.

Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), to which Singapore is a signatory, elephants and pangolins are endangered species. International trade in ivory and pangolin scales is prohibited without Cites permits.

Under Singapore's Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, a Cites permit is required for any import, export or re-export of Cites wildlife and their parts and products.

Those involved in the illegal wildlife trade face a fine of up to $50,000 per specimen and up to a total of $500,000, up to two years in jail, or both.

This also applies to any transit or transhipment of Cites specimens through Singapore without proper Cites permits from the exporting or importing country.

Anyone with information on the illegal wildlife trade can contact AVA on 6805-2992 or provide information through the online feedback form on AVA's website, www.ava.gov.sg.


Singapore seizes huge shipment of elephant tusks, pangolin scales
Reuters 17 Dec 15;

Singapore authorities have impounded half a tonne of elephant tusks in one of the largest ivory seizures made in the city-state in over a decade.

The tusks, weighing 505 kg (1,100 pounds), were found along with 324 kg of pangolin scales in an air shipment on its way to Laos on Dec. 12, Singapore Customs and the agriculture and veterinary agency said in a joint statement on Thursday.

The boxes were labeled as synthetic wigs and had come from Nigeria, the authorities said, adding that the shipment had an estimated value of S$1.3 million ($920,000).

Trade in ivory and the endangered pangolin, a mammal that looks like an anteater, is restricted under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), but demand remains strong in parts of Asia, where these animal products are prized for their supposed medicinal value.

The seizure was the fifth-largest seizure made in Singapore since 2002, and follows the seizure of 3.7 tonnes of illegal ivory earlier this year in a shipping container that listed the contents as tea leaves from Kenya.

Illegal trade in wildlife products covered by CITES carries a penalty of up to two years jail or a fine of up to S$500,000.

(Reporting by Rodney Joyce; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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