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S$1.3m worth of illegal ivory, pangolin scales seized

SINGAPORE — An air shipment supposed to contain wigs turned out to be an illegal load of ivory and pangolin scales, estimated to be worth S$1.3 million.

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SINGAPORE — An air shipment supposed to contain wigs turned out to be an illegal load of ivory and pangolin scales, estimated to be worth S$1.3 million.

The illegal shipment was discovered and seized at the Changi Airfreight Centre last Saturday (Dec 12) after officers from the Singapore Customs and Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) discovered 255 pieces of raw elephant tusks weighing about 505kg and pangolin scales weighing about 324kg.

The shipment, labelled “complete wigs of synthetic textile materials”, originated from Lagos, Nigeria and was en route to Vientiane, Laos.

This is the fifth largest load of illegal ivory seized by Singapore authorities since 2002, the Singapore Customs and AVA said in a news release today.

A freight forwarding company in connection with the shipment is assisting AVA with the investigations.

Elephants and pangolins are endangered species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to which Singapore is a signatory.

Under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, a CITES permit is required for any import, export or re-export of CITES wildlife and their parts and products. Offenders can be fined up to S$50,000 per scheduled specimen (not exceeding an aggregate of S$500,000) and/or jailed up to two years.

The same penalties apply to any transit or transhipment of CITES specimens through Singapore without proper CITES permits from the exporting/importing country.

“We have zero tolerance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species, their parts and products,” Singapore Custom’s Head of Air Checkpoints Branch Chua Teck Hui said. “We will continue to collaborate with other national and international enforcement agencies to curb wildlife trafficking.”

“The logistics industry plays a vital role in protecting the endangered species and tackling the illegal wildlife trade. AVA would like to remind all shipping, transport, logistics and freight forwarding companies to be prudent and exercise caution when accepting shipping and freight assignments to ensure that their companies are not implicated in wildlife trafficking,” said Ms Lye Fong Keng, the deputy director of the Quarantine & Inspection Group (Wildlife Section) at AVA.

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