SINGAPORE: An illegal shipment of elephant tusks and pangolin scales – worth an estimated S$1.3 million – was seized by Singapore authorities last week.
The air shipment from Lagos, Nigeria was bound for Vientiane, Laos via Singapore when it was intercepted at the Changi Airfreight Centre last Saturday (Dec 12), the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and Singapore Customs said in a press release on Thursday.
The 0.8-tonne shipment contained 255 pieces of raw elephant tusks weighing about 505kg and pangolin scales weighing about 324kg. The shipment was labelled as “complete wigs of synthetic textile materials”, the release said.
This is the fifth largest seizure of illegal ivory by Singapore authorities since 2002, AVA and Singapore Customs said. A freight forwarding company is assisting AVA with the investigations.
“We have zero tolerance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species, their parts and products,” said Mr Chua Teck Hui, Singapore Customs’ Head of Air Checkpoints Branch. “We will continue to collaborate with other national and international enforcement agencies to curb wildlife trafficking.”
Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to which Singapore is a signatory, elephants and pangolins are endangered species. International trade in ivory and pangolin scales is prohibited without CITES permits.
The maximum penalty is a fine of S$50,000 per scheduled specimen, up to a maximum of S$500,000, or imprisonment of up to two years.