Singapore authorities seize 1,800 ivory pieces worth S$3.3 million

Today Online 8 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE — A shipment brought into Singapore from Nigeria was declared to have contained groundnuts. But upon closer inspection, the authorities instead found 61 bags containing close to 1,800 ivory pieces worth about US$2.5 million (S$3.3 million).

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said on Thursday (March 8) that the ivory pieces — which weigh about 3,500kg — were discovered after the shipment was detained at the Pasir Panjang Scanning Station for further checks by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority on Monday.

It had originated from Apapa in Nigeria, and was to be re-exported to Vietnam.

“AVA seized the ivory and the importer is currently assisting with our investigations,” said the AVA in a statement. “The illegal shipment was detected as a result of inter-agency risk assessment and collaboration”.

Since elephants are labelled as protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), AVA said that it is an offence in Singapore to illegally import or export, possess, sell, offer and advertise for sale or display to the public any illegal wildlife species protected under Cites.

Those convicted of such an offence face a fine of up to S$500,000 and/or two years imprisonment, and forfeiture of the animals or items.

The same penalties apply to transit or transshipment of illegal wildlife species, including their parts and derivatives, said AVA.

Stressing that the Government takes a “zero-tolerance stance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species and their parts”, the AVA said that it will take stern enforcement action against illegal wildlife smugglers.

This is not the first time that shipments containing ivory pieces have entered Singapore. Between 2014 and 2015, the authorities seized a total of 7.9 tonnes of illegal elephant ivory shipments worth about S$13 million.

The ivory pieces were destroyed in June 2016, when they were pulverised by an industrial rock crusher and compact roller. They were then incinerated at an eco-waste incineration plant and the ashes were used as landfill at Pulau Semakau.

Singapore has been labelled as a country of “primary concern” by wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic in its 2016 report for its role as a transit point for ivory trafficking. The report had stated that illegal ivory consignments that went through the country grew far more prominent between 2012 and 2014.

Singapore has rejected the ignominious title, and raised doubts over how the conclusion was made.


S$2.5 million worth of elephant ivory seized in Pasir Panjang
Channel NewsAsia 8 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE: About S$2.5 million worth of elephant ivory was seized at the Pasir Panjang Scanning Station on Monday (Mar 5), Singapore authorities said on Thursday.

The shipment from Apapa, Nigeria, was declared to have contained groundnuts, but an inspection by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) uncovered 61 bags with a total of 1,787 pieces of ivory, weighing about 3,500kg.

The ivory, which was to be re-exported to Vietnam, was seized and the importer is assisting with investigations, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and AVA said in a news release.

It is against the law in Singapore to import or export any illegal wildlife species, including their parts and derivatives under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Elephants are protected under CITES and international trade in elephant ivory is prohibited.

The same penalties apply to transits and transhipments, ICA and AVA said.

Offenders face a fine of up to S$500,000 and two years' imprisonment, and the forfeiture of the items or animals.

Source: CNA/aa

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