AVA repatriates 1.8 tonnes of ivory to Africa

AVA officers and Kenyan officials inspecting the ivory.

SINGAPORE - The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) is working with the Kenyan Wildlife Service, Kenyan Police and the Lusaka Agreement Taskforce (LATF) to repatriate a consignment of 1.8 tonnes of raw ivory tusks to Africa for further investigation and enforcement actions by the African authorities.

The ivory was inspected and quantity verified by AVA and the African enforcement authorities on 23 July 2013 in preparation for the return to Africa.

The shipment is the second largest ivory seizure since 2002 and also the second consignment to be repatriated to Africa.

The 1.8 tonnes of raw ivory tusks, with an estimated value of about S$2.5 million, were seized by AVA and the Singapore Customs when the illegal consignment was in transit through Singapore on 23 January 2013, en route to another country from Kenya.

The consignment was falsely declared as ‘waste paper’ and the ivory tusks were packed in 65 gunny sacks. AVA's investigations showed that no local importer was involved in the case.

Ms Lye Fong Keng, Deputy Director of AVA’s Quarantine & Inspection Group, said: “The repatriation signals strong collaborative effort between Singapore, Kenyan authorities and Lusaka Agreement Taskforce to disrupt the illegal ivory trade”.

Mr Pius Macharia, Assistant Commissioner of Kenya Police, said: “The ivory repatriation signifies continued cooperation between Kenyan and Singaporean authorities in efforts to curb illegal trade in African elephant ivory which is the main motivation for poaching.

"Elephant poaching threatens wildlife-based tourism in Africa. Through LATF (a regional wildlife law enforcement task force), Africa is cooperating with other international organizations and specifically with ASEAN and SAWEN to combat wildlife crime globally.

"This repatriation is in compliance with CITES requirements and is the second one from Singapore since 2004. We acknowledge the efforts of Singapore authorities towards this exercise.”

Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), of which Singapore is a signatory to, all African and Asian elephants are endangered species. International trade in ivory has been banned under the Convention since 1989.

In Singapore, the maximum penalty for illegal trade (import, export and re-export) of ivory is a fine of $50,000 per scheduled specimen (not exceeding $500,000) and/or imprisonment of up to two years under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act.

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

The Singapore government will not condone any illegal wildlife trade activities going through our country. If any person has information on illegal trade in ivory, please contact AVA at 6325 7625. All information shared with AVA will be kept strictly confidential.

AVA also reminded all shipping and logistics companies, declaring agents and freight forwarders to exercise prudence and adopt security measures to ensure they are not used as conduits for wildlife trafficking.

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