Singapore authorities seize $2m worth of illegal ivory on transit from Africa

Singapore authorities seized $2 million worth of illegal ivory last week - the third largest haul of its kind since 2002.

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Here is the full statement from the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore:

Acting on a tip-off, officers from the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and Singapore Customs worked together to intercept and detain a shipment of illegal ivory, estimated to be worth S$2 million, last week.

This is the third largest seizure of illegal ivory by Singapore authorities since 2002 (refer to Annex A for information on the previous cases).

The shipment, which was declared as coffee berries, was transiting through Singapore from Africa in a 20-foot container and destined for another Asian country. AVA and Singapore Customs officers detected irregularities in the consignment of goods when the container was scanned at the Pasir Panjang Export Inspection Station on 25 March 2014.

A total of 106 pieces of illegal raw ivory tusks, weighing about one tonne, were recovered from 15 wooden crates. AVA is currently investigating the case.

All elephants are endangered species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). International trade in elephant ivory has been prohibited under the Convention since 1989. Under the Singapore Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, a permit is required to import and export/re-export any elephant and its parts and products including ivory. The penalties for illegal trade in ivory is a maximum fine of S$50,000 per scheduled specimen (not exceeding an aggregate of S$500,000) and/or imprisonment of up to two years. The same penalties apply to any transhipment of ivory through Singapore without proper CITES permits from the exporting/importing country.

AVA will continue to cooperate and collaborate with Singapore Customs and other national and international enforcement agencies to curb wildlife trafficking. AVA would like to remind all companies including shipping and logistics companies, declaring agents and freight forwarders to exercise prudence when accepting jobs from customers or companies, and adopt internal security measures to avoid being implicated in the smuggling of illegal wildlife, their parts and products.

Anyone with information on illegal trade in ivory can contact the AVA on 63257625. All information provided to the AVA will be kept in strict confidence.