AVA to send 1.8 tonnes of smuggled ivory back to Africa

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) is repatriating a huge shipment of illegally-smuggled ivory to Africa with the help of Kenyan authorities.

The AVA said in a statement on Tuesday that it had inspected and verified the quantity of ivory and was sending it back for further investigation and enforcement actions by Kenyan authorities.

The 1.8-tonne shipment of raw ivory tusks, the second-largest seized since 2002 and with an estimated value of $2.5 million, was seized in January this year by AVA and Singapore customs en route to another country from Kenya. It had been falsely declared as waste paper.

"AVA has concluded our investigations and determined that no local importer was involved in the case. We have 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," an AVA spokesman said.

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

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