SINGAPORE: Singapore will ban domestic trade in elephant ivory from September 2021, the National Parks Board (NParks) said on Monday (Aug 12).

The ban will mean that the sale of elephant ivory and ivory products will be prohibited in Singapore, NParks said. The display of the products for sale will also not be allowed.

The ban will take effect on Sep 1, 2021.

“This nationwide ban highlights Singapore’s resolve in the fight against illegal trade in species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES),” NParks said in a press release.

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Under CITES, to which Singapore is a signatory, international trade in elephant ivory has been banned since 1990.

While Singapore has banned international trade on all forms of elephant ivory products since 1990, domestic trade is still permitted if traders show that their items were imported before 1990 or were acquired before the inclusion of the relevant elephant species in CITES.

After the ban comes into effect, traders can donate their stock to institutions for educational purposes or keep them. 

Public display of elephant ivory or ivory products for educational or religious purposes will continue to be permitted. Those who own musical instruments and personal effects like bird cages that contain ivory may continue to use them in public, NParks said.

Singapore’s ban offers no exceptions, potentially making it the world’s strictest ivory ban in scope and implementation, said the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).  

“Singapore’s decisive actions are important steps to protect wildlife as we continue to see dwindling populations across the globe. The domestic trade ban sends a strong signal to global governments and underlines the urgency to stop the illegal wildlife trade,” said WWF-Singapore CEO Maureen DeRooij.

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The ban comes after about two years of consultation from 2017 with the public, including non-government organisations and ivory retailers.

In a public consultation conducted on the REACH portal from November to December last year, 99 per cent of respondents were supportive of the blanket ban.

Dr Leong Chee Chiew, Director-General, Wildlife Trade Control, said: “It is timely that we are announcing the domestic ban of trade in ivory on World Elephant Day. NParks, as the national authority that enforces CITES in Singapore, is committed to stopping the trade of elephant ivory and its products for the conservation and protection of the world’s elephants.”

Once the ban comes into effect, those who contravene it may be jailed up to a year, or fined.