Singapore authorities seize elephant ivory worth US$2.5 million from Vietnam-bound shipment

More than 60 bags of elephant ivory worth about US$2.5 million ($3.28 million) were seized by Singapore authorities on Mar 5 from a Vietnam-bound shipment.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said in a joint statement yesterday (Mar 8) that the shipment originated from Apapa, Nigeria, and was declared to have contained groundnuts.

AVA officers inspected the container and uncovered 1,787 pieces of elephant ivory in 61 bag, weighing about 3,500kg.

The ivory was to be re-exported to Vietnam.

AVA has seized the ivory and the importer is currently assisting with investigations.

The statement said that the illegal shipment was detected as a result of inter-agency risk assessment and collaboration.

In Singapore, it is an offence to illegally import and export, possess, sell, offer or advertise for sale or display illegal wildlife species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites). 

Elephants are a protected species under Cites and international trade in elephant ivory is prohibited, the statement said.

Those convicted of doing so will face up to two years' jail or fined up to $500,000. The prohibited items will also be forfeited.

These same penalties apply to transit or transshipment of illegal wildlife species, including their parts and derivatives.

ICA said that it will continue to conduct checks on vehicles and travellers at the checkpoints to stop smuggling attempts.

"As the Government takes a zero-tolerance stance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species and their parts, AVA will take stern enforcement action against illegal wildlife smugglers," the statement added.

Anyone with information on the illegal wildlife trade can contact AVA on 6805-2992 or through its website