- Singapore authorities were tipped off by China’s customs department.
- The illegal cargo also contained $35.7 million worth of pangolin scales.
- The authorities planned to destroy the illegal goods seized.
The greed for ivory tusks simply could not be stopped despite pleas to have mercy on elephants. Recently, authorities in Singapore seized a tremendous haul of 8.8 tonnes of elephant ivory, which were taken from almost 300 African elephants.
The massive haul has a street value of $12.9 million (£10.4 million). The illegal shipment was cornered by Singapore authorities, with the help of a tip off from the customs department of China.
The shipment came from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The shipment was supposed to be delivered to Vietnam and was just passing through Singapore. It was falsely declared as timber.
As if these weren’t enough, the authorities also found 11.9 tonnes of pangolin scales. These are believed to have been taken from around 2,000 pangolins.
The scales seized has a value of $35.7 million (£28.6 million).
The authorities will destroy the ivory and scales that were seized.
This is not the first time that Singapore has cornered illegal cargoes of this kind.
Since April of this year, customs were able to seize 37.5 tonnes of pangolin scales. But this recent incident is the largest of its kind so far. In a statement for Reuters, Kim Stengert, chief communications officer for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Singapore, said:
Singapore has always been inadvertently implicated in the global ivory trade for two reasons: its global connectivity, as well as the presence of a small domestic market where pre-1990s ivory can be legally sold.”
Ivory has long been valued for its ornamental and traditional medicine uses.
Meanwhile, pangolin scales are in demand in Asia also because of its use in traditional Chinese medicine.
The penalty for this illegal activity is steep. Singapore imposes a fine of up to SGD 500,000 (£295,000)or two years in prison.
This will make the trade more lucrative and become more rampant, resulting in more elephant deaths.
The decision to destroy the seized goods is drawing mixed reactions. Some think that doing so reduces the supply and will, therefore, increase the price for traffickers.
On the other hand, some think that destroying them is a better idea. Getting rid of it just like any other contraband will hugely lessen its assumed value.
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