Singapore marks World Elephant Day with ivory crush and new forensics centre
Singapore, 11th August 2020—Singapore today crushed ivory from its largest ever seizure and more to signal its commitment to combating the illicit ivory trade. The destroyed ivory includes 8.8 tonnes of ivory seized on 23rd July 2019 by the National Parks Board (NParks), Singapore Customs and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA). The shipment, packed into three containers from DRC en route to Viet Nam, also included 11.9 tonnes of pangolin scales. NParks estimates that the ivory came from nearly 300 African Elephants.
That particular seizure was a result of inter-agency co-operation with Chinese authorities. This theme of co-ordinated international and inter-agency efforts was reiterated today in speeches by Minister for National Development, Desmond Lee and CITES Secretary-General, Ivonne Higuero.
Higuero commended Singapore’s effective use of risk management to screen suspicious cargo and passengers. “Persistent, strong and unequivocal responses are required from source, transit and destination countries,” she said.
According to media reports, the rest of the ivory was from a case in January 2014 where abandoned check-in luggage containing over 45 kg of ivory was intercepted in transit to Cambodia and Lao PDR, and another case in July 2017 involving a Vietnamese man carrying ivory bracelets and bird cage accessories.
Singapore had previously carried out an ivory crush in 2016, destroying 7.9 tonnes of ivory.
Between 2016 and 2019, at least six seizures including 12.5 tonnes of raw ivory and 24 pieces of worked ivory were carried out in Singapore.
The ivory will be destroyed over the next three to five days in an industrial rock-crusher, and then incinerated under the close watch of NParks. Allowing for transparency of this process, the crushing process is livestreamed at www.go.gov.sg/nparksivorycrush. Today's event begins the day before the annual World Elephant Day on 12th August.
According to NParks, samples from the ivory had been extracted prior to the crush, and analysis of the seized ivory is being carried out to identify where they were sourced from.
TRAFFIC has always maintained that strict, impartial auditing take place before any destruction of ivory stockpiles, and that burns or crushes be carried out alongside meaningful national and international action to combat poaching, trafficking and illegal ivory trade.
Lee reiterated Singapore’s commitment to tackling the international illegal wildlife trade. He also urged the members of the public not to buy illegal wildlife products, reminding them of Singapore’s ban on domestic ivory trade announced in Aug 2019 that comes into force in September 2021.
At the same event, Singapore’s Centre for Wildlife Forensics was launched. It will add other advanced forensics analysis such as DNA and chemical-based methods, expanding on existing morphological and molecular methods, to identify seized wildlife and provide greater insights into wildlife trafficking to tackle the problem.
According to the NParks press release, the Centre will “focus on wildlife most severely impacted by the illegal wildlife trade—elephants, rhinoceros, pangolins, sharks and rays, and songbirds”.