Singapore authorities seize illegal ivory, rhinoceros horns and big cats' teeth

Singapore authorities seize illegal ivory, rhinoceros horns and big cats' teeth

SINGAPORE - Singapore authorities have seized a shipment of about 3.7 tonnes of illegal ivory.

The shipment, that was seized by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), Singapore Customs and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), was shipped in two 20-footer containers from Kenya and was transiting through Singapore for Vietnam.

It was initially declared as tea leaves.

During the investigation, AVA uncovered 1,783 pieces of raw ivory tusks concealed among bags of tea dust. There were also four pieces of rhinoceros horns and 22 pieces of canine teeth believed to be from African big cats.

The haul, estimated at $8 million, has been seized by AVA for further investigations.

Elephants, rhinoceros and big cats such as leopards and cheetahs are endangered species and international trade in ivory, rhinoceros horns and certain species of big cats' teeth are banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The maximum penalty for the illegal wildlife is a fine of $50,000 per scheduled specimen and/or imprisonment of up to two years.

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

"The Singapore Government has zero tolerance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species and their parts and products. AVA will continue to co-operate and collaborate with partner enforcement agencies nationally and internationally to curb wildlife trafficking. The public can also help reduce demand by not buying such products", said Ms Lye Fong Keng, Deputy Director of AVA's Quarantine & Inspection Group, Wildlife Section.

debwong@sph.com.sg

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