Singapore seizes elephant tusks, pangolin scales shipments

Half tonne of elephant tusks and pangolin scale shipments on their way to Laos impounded, Singapore Customs, agriculture and veterinary agency says

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Handout photo of ivory tusks seized in Singapore, December 17, 2015

Singapore authorities have impounded half a tonne of elephant tusks in one of the largest ivory seizures made in the city-state in over a decade.

The tusks, weighing 505 kg (1,100 pounds), were found along with 324 kg of pangolin scales in an air shipment on its way to Laos on Dec. 12, Singapore Customs and the agriculture and veterinary agency said in a joint statement on Thursday.

The boxes were labelled as synthetic wigs and had come from Nigeria, the authorities said, adding that the shipment had an estimated value of S$1.3 million ($920,000).

Trade in ivory and the endangered pangolin, a mammal that looks like an anteater, is restricted under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), but demand remains strong in parts of Asia, where these animal products are prized for their supposed medicinal value.

The seizure was the fifth-largest seizure made in Singapore since 2002, and follows the seizure of 3.7 tonnes of illegal ivory earlier this year in a shipping container that listed the contents as tea leaves from Kenya.

Illegal trade in wildlife products covered by CITES carries a penalty of up to two years jail or a fine of up to S$500,000.