SINGAPORE: Singapore authorities on Sunday (Jul 21) seized S$66.2 million worth of elephant ivory and pangolin scales after they intercepted a transshipment bound for Vietnam.
Officials found 11.9 tonnes of pangolin scales and 8.8 tonnes of elephant ivory in a container from the Democratic Republic of Congo, said the National Parks Board, Singapore Customs and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority in a joint release on Tuesday.
The container was part of a shipment of three being transhipped through Singapore to Vietnam, and had been declared as timber.
However “upon inspection, sacks containing pangolin scales and elephant ivory were found in one of the containers,” said the news release.
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Packed into 132 bags were 8.8 tonnes of elephant ivory estimated to be worth US$12.9 million (S$17.6 million) – the largest seizure of elephant ivory in Singapore to date, according to the release.
About 300 African elephants were killed for this shipment.
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The shipment also contained 11.9 tonnes of pangolin scales, which were packed into 237 bags. They are estimated to be worth about US$35.7 million and came from 2,000 pangolins, the release said.
The scales came from the Giant Pangolin, which is native to Africa. The species is considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Sunday’s haul marks the third major seizure of pangolin scales in Singapore this year. Since April this year, the authorities have seized a total of 37.5 tonnes of pangolin scales.
In April, Singapore also seized 177kg of cut up and carved elephant ivory worth US$88,500.
“These latest seizures are testament to Singapore’s commitment to the global effort to stem illegal trade in CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)-listed species, including their parts and derivatives,” said the news release.
“The seized pangolin scales and elephant ivory will be destroyed to prevent them from re-entering the market.”
Both pangolins and elephants are protected species and international trade in elephant ivory and pangolins is not allowed. They are poached and traded for ornamental and medicinal uses.
Under the Endangered Species (Import & Export) Act, the maximum penalty for illegal import, export and re-export of wildlife is a fine of up to S$500,000 and/or 2 years’ imprisonment.
The same penalties apply to transit or transhipment of CITES-listed species of wildlife, including their parts and derivatives.