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SINGAPORE: More than 60 bags of elephant ivory worth about US$2.5 million (S$3.28 million) were seized by the authorities on Monday (March 5) from a Vietnam-bound shipment.
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said in a joint statement on Thursday that the shipment originated from Apapa, Nigeria, and was declared as containing groundnuts.
AVA officers inspected the container at Pasir Panjang Scanning Station and uncovered 1,787 pieces of ivory tusks in 61 bags, totalling about 3,500kg.
The ivory was to be re-exported to Vietnam, the statement said, adding that the importer is currently assisting in investigations.
The largest such seizure of elephant ivory in recent years was in 2014, when the authorities uncovered about 4.6 tonnes worth some $8 million.
In Singapore, which follows the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), it is an offence to illegally import and export, possess, sell, offer or advertise for sale or display illegal wildlife species.
Elephants are a protected species under Cites and international trade in elephant ivory is prohibited, the statement said.
Those convicted of doing so will face up to two years’ jail or fined up to $500,000. The prohibited items will also be forfeited.
These penalties also apply to transit or transshipment of illegal wildlife species, including their parts and derivatives.
In the statement, ICA said that it will continue to conduct checks on vehicles and travellers at the checkpoints to stop smuggling attempts.
“As the Government takes a zero-tolerance stance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species and their parts, AVA will take stern enforcement action against illegal wildlife smugglers,” the statement added.
Anyone with information on the illegal wildlife trade can contact AVA on 6805-2992 or through its website www.ava.gov.sg