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​Singapore Seizes Record Haul Of Ivory From Nearly 300 Elephants Worth £10.3m

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​Singapore Seizes Record Haul Of Ivory From Nearly 300 Elephants Worth £10.3m

Singapore has seized a record haul of smuggled ivory, which is estimated to have come from nearly 300 African Elephants.

It's the largest seizure of elephant ivory in Singapore to date and is believed to be worth S$17.6m ($12.9 million/£10.4m).

The shipment also contained 11.9 tonnes of pangolin scales, estimated to be worth S$48.7m ($35.7m/£28.6m). The scales are believed to have come from 2,000 giant pangolins - which are thought to be the most widely trafficked mammals in the world. Pangolin meat is considered a delicacy in countries like Vietnam and Japan, while its scales are often used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Following this seizure, Singapore has managed to seize a total of 37.5 tonnes of pangolin scales since April 2019.

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A pangolin at a zoo in Leipzig, Germany. Credit: PA
A pangolin at a zoo in Leipzig, Germany. Credit: PA

On 21 July 2019, the country's National Parks Board had worked with Singapore Customs and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority to intercept a shipment of three containers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which were being shipped through Singapore to Vietnam.

A statement from the National Parks Board explained that the seizure came after a tip-off from China's customs department.

"The three containers were said to contain timber according to the bill of lading," it said.

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"Upon inspection, sacks containing pangolin scales and elephant ivory were found in one of the containers."

The seized ivory. Credit: PA
The seized ivory. Credit: PA

The statement also said the seized goods would be destroyed, continuing: "These latest seizures are testament to Singapore's commitment to the global effort to stem illegal trade in CITES-listed species, including their parts and derivatives. The seized pangolin scales and elephant ivory will be destroyed to prevent them from re-entering the market."

Under Singapore's Endangered Species Act, the maximum penalty for illegally importing, exporting and re-exporting wildlife is a fine of up to S$500,000 ($370,000/£295,000) and/or two years' imprisonment.

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The same penalties apply to transit or transhipment of CITES-listed species of wildlife, including their parts and derivatives.

"Singapore has always been inadvertently implicated in the global ivory trade for two reasons: its global connectivity, as well as the presence of a small domestic market where pre-1990s ivory can be legally sold," Kim Stengert, chief communications officer for WWF Singapore, told Reuters.

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"The consistency of these large-scale seizures is strong evidence of organised crime behind illegal wildlife trade coming through or into Singapore."

Extinct: A race against time to save our endangered species. Read more from our campaign here.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Extinct, World News, News, Animals

Jess Hardiman
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