More than 60 bags of elephant ivory worth US$2.5 million were seized by Singapore authorities on Monday, March 5, from a Vietnam-bound shipment.In a joint press release released on Thursday, by the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA), a container detained at the Pasir Panjang Scanning Station was found to hold 61 bags of elephant ivory — 1,787 pieces in total, weighing about 3,500 kg altogether.
The shipment of ivory originated from Apapa, Nigeria, and was meant to be re-exported to Vietnam, the statement said, adding that the importer is currently assisting in investigations.
According to the authorities, the value of the elephant tusks was estimated to be worth about US$2.5 million. The illegal shipment itself was detected thanks to an inter-agency risk assessment and collaboration.
Expressing the government’s zero-tolerance stance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species and their parts.
In Singapore, which follows the the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), it is an offence to illegally import and export, possess, sell, offer or advertise for sale or display illegal wildlife species.
Elephants are a protected species under Cites and international trade in elephant ivory is prohibited, the statement said.
Those convicted of doing so will face up to two years’ jail or fined up to $500,000. The prohibited items will also be forfeited.
These penalties also apply to transit or transshipment of illegal wildlife species, including their parts and derivatives.
In the statement, ICA said that it will continue to conduct checks on vehicles and travellers at the checkpoints to stop smuggling attempts.
“As the Government takes a zero-tolerance stance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species and their parts, AVA will take stern enforcement action against illegal wildlife smugglers,” the statement added.