Tons of elephant ivory, pangolin scales seized in Singapore

Posted on 23 July 2019

Three containers en route to Vietnam from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were intercepted in Singapore containing 11.9 tons of pangolin scales and 8.8 tons of elephant ivory.

Ground pangolin. Image: Johan Vermeulen

National Parks Board (NParks) worked with Singapore Customs and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to inspect a shipment.

The bill of landing stipulated that there was timber inside the containers. Whilst inspecting the shipment, authorities found sacks containing pangolin scales and elephant ivory in one of the containers.

The discovery amounted to US$35.7 million (R495,699,855) worth of pangolin scales and US$12.9 million (R179,118,435) worth of ivory. Pangolins are Earth’s most trafficked mammal other than humans.

NParks, Singapore Customs and ICA adopt a Whole-of-Government approach and have a robust domestic risk assessment framework as well as strong cooperation with international and local partners to combat the illegal trade in ivory and other CITES-listed species.

There is also sharing of information between international agencies.

Also see: Documentary: Eye of the Pangolin

In this particular case, the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China had shared information that enabled the Singapore agencies to successfully seize the pangolin scales and ivory.

Since April 2019, Singapore has seized a total of 35.7 tons of pangolin scales. This haul consisted of scales belonging to giant pangolins and which were estimated to have come from 2,000 of these animals. The ivory is estimated to have come from nearly 300 African elephants, making it the largest seizure of ivory in Singapore to date.

Previously Singapore seized 177kg of cut up and carved ivory in April 2019. The scales and ivory seized in this haul will be destroyed, to prevent them from re-entering the market.

These latest seizures are testament to Singapore’s commitment to the global effort to stem illegal trade in CITES-listed species, including their parts and derivatives.


Image: Twitter @JohnEScanlon

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