Singapore authorities seize illegal ivory, rhinoceros horns, big cats' teeth estimated at $8 million

1,783 pieces of raw ivory tusks, 4 pieces of rhinoceros horns and 22 pieces of canine teeth believed to be from African big cats were concealed among bags of tea dust. -- PHOTO: AGRI-FOOD & VETERINARY AUTHORITY AND SINGAPORE CUSTOMS
1,783 pieces of raw ivory tusks, 4 pieces of rhinoceros horns and 22 pieces of canine teeth believed to be from African big cats were concealed among bags of tea dust. -- PHOTO: AGRI-FOOD & VETERINARY AUTHORITY AND SINGAPORE CUSTOMS
1,783 pieces of raw ivory tusks, 4 pieces of rhinoceros horns and 22 pieces of canine teeth believed to be from African big cats were concealed among bags of tea dust. -- PHOTO: AGRI-FOOD & VETERINARY AUTHORITY AND SINGAPORE CUSTOMS
1,783 pieces of raw ivory tusks, 4 pieces of rhinoceros horns and 22 pieces of canine teeth believed to be from African big cats were concealed among bags of tea dust. -- PHOTO: AGRI-FOOD & VETERINARY AUTHORITY AND SINGAPORE CUSTOMS

SINGAPORE - The authorities here have seized a shipment of illegal ivory, rhinoceros horns and teeth of African big cats with an estimated value of $8 million.

The shipment, which consists of about 3.7 tonnes of illegal ivory, is the second largest seizure of illegal ivory since 2002, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and Singapore Customs said in a joint press release on Tuesday.

The shipment, which was declared as tea leaves, was shipped in two 20-footer containers from Kenya and was transiting through Singapore for Vietnam.

Upon inspecting the two containers, AVA uncovered 1,783 pieces of raw ivory tusks concealed among bags of tea dust. AVA also found four pieces of rhinoceros horns and 22 pieces of canine teeth believed to be from African big cats.

The haul, estimated at $8 million, has been seized by AVA for further investigations.

Said Ms Lye Fong Keng, Deputy Director of AVA's Quarantine and Inspection Group, Wildlife Section: "The illegal trade of endangered animal parts is fuelled by increasing demand and poaching. Tackling the illegal wildlife trade requires concerted efforts by the international community.

"The Singapore Government has zero tolerance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species and their parts and products. AVA will continue to cooperate and collaborate with partner enforcement agencies nationally and internationally to curb wildlife trafficking."

She urged the public to help reduce demand for these animal parts by not buying such products.