Authorities in Singapore have confiscated nearly nine metric tons of elephant ivory. In their biggest seizure ever, the officials estimated the value of the tusks to be around $12.9 million and they’re thought to have come from almost 300 African elephants. They also confiscated close to 12 tons of pangolin scales with an estimated value of $35.7 million. The scales are thought to have come from roughly 2,000 of the spiny anteaters.
The illegal load was discovered in containers after officials received a tip from the Chinese customs department. The authorities found the animal parts on the 21st of this month after examining a shipment from the Democratic Republic of Congo which was going through Singapore en route to Vietnam. The containers were inaccurately proclaimed to have timber inside.
“Upon inspection, sacks containing pangolin scales and elephant ivory were found in one of the containers,” stated the National Parks Board.
A rampant primitive trade
Singapore is no stranger to encounters with these types of illegal products. The country has confiscated a total of approximately 37.5 tons of pangolin scales in the last three months.
“Singapore has always been inadvertently implicated in the global ivory trade for two reasons: its global connectivity, as well as the presence of a small domestic market where pre-1990s ivory can be legally sold,” said the Chief communications officer for the World Wildlife Fund in Singapore, Kim Stengert.
Ivory is used to make certain ornaments and traditional Asian medicines, and pangolin scales are also demanded in Asia to be used as traditional Chinese medicine. Pangolins are believed to be the most trafficked mammals in the world, accounting for around 20 percent of the illegal wildlife trade.
The scales and the ivory that was confiscated will soon be destroyed. According to Singapore’s Endangered Species Act, the maximum punishment for illegal importing, exporting, and re-exporting of wildlife is a fine of no more than half a million Singapore dollars, and/or two months in prison.