Singapore authorities have impounded half a ton 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 December 12, Singapore Customs and the agriculture and veterinary agency said in a joint statement.
According to Reuters, the boxes were labelled as synthetic wigs and had come from Lagos Nigeria, the authorities said, adding that the shipment had an estimated value of S$1.3 million ($920,000).
“On 12 December 2015, Singapore Customs intercepted an air shipment of illegal ivory and pangolin scales at the Changi Airfreight Centre. The 0.8-tonne shipment, labelled as ‘complete wigs of synthetic textile materials’, originated from Lagos, Nigeria, and was en route to Vientiane, Laos, via Singapore.
“A closer inspection of the shipment by Singapore Customs and AVA officers revealed 255 pieces of raw elephant tusks weighing about 505kg and pangolin scales weighing about 324kg. The shipment, worth an estimated S$1.3 million, was seized. This is the fifth largest seizure of illegal ivory by Singapore authorities since 2002. A freight forwarding company in connection with the shipment is assisting AVA with the investigations.”
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.