Ivory, pangolin scales worth $1.3m seized

Ivory, pangolin scales worth $1.3m seized
AVA and Singapore Customs officers inspect the illegal ivory and pangolin scales together. The terms were found in a 0.8 tonne shipment originating from Lagos, Nigeria and heading to Vientiane, Laos via Singapore, labelled as "complete wigs of synthetic textile materials".
PHOTO: Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore, Singapore Customs

A shipment of illegal ivory and pangolin scales, worth an estimated $1.3 million, was seized last weekend at the Changi Airfreight Centre.

It was the fifth-largest seizure of illegal ivory by the Singapore authorities since 2002.

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 shipment, which weighed about 800kg, originated from Lagos, Nigeria, and was on its way to Vientiane, Laos, via Singapore. It was labelled as "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 about 324kg of pangolin scales.

A freight forwarding company connected with the shipment is helping the AVA with the investigations.

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

"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.

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

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

The AVA reminded logistics firms to be prudent and exercise caution in accepting shipping and freight assignments to ensure they are not implicated in wildlife trafficking.

The latest case follows the seizure of 3.7 tonnes of illegal ivory in May, the second largest since 2002.

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

janiceh@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on December 18, 2015.
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