Forum: Bans on domestic ivory trade have proven effective in reducing demand

We refer to Mr Eugene Lapointe's letter "Ban on domestic ivory trade may be counterproductive" (Sept 8).

As a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), Singapore is committed to the global fight against illegal wildlife trade.

Singapore supported the international ban on trade in ivory in 1990, and collaborates actively with Cites, other member states and our international partners to enforce this ban.

In August last year, Singapore crushed around nine tonnes of illegal elephant ivory, estimated to have come from more than 300 African elephants. The seizure, made in transit in Singapore, was aided by information from China's General Administration of Customs.

To further support international efforts to curb illegal ivory trade, Singapore's domestic ban on the sale, advertisement and public display of elephant ivory and ivory products for the purpose of sale came into effect at the beginning of this month.

This includes ivory that was brought into Singapore before 1990. Such ivory was previously not regulated, so our domestic ban closed this loophole.

The ban is also in line with the Cites recommendation that parties close their domestic markets for commercial trade in elephant ivory or ivory products.

Before the ban was implemented, we conducted extensive engagements with stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations and ivory retailers, and also received strong support from the Singapore public.

Thus far, bans on domestic trade in ivory by Cites member states have proven effective in reducing ivory demand.

However, our domestic ban cannot work alone to stem the global trade of illegal ivory. We have put in place a whole-of-government enforcement framework, where we work with border and law enforcement agencies to tackle illegal wildlife trade. We also recently opened our Centre for Wildlife Forensics, and will continue to strengthen our regulatory and enforcement capabilities to combat illegal wildlife trade.

Weeding out illegal trade in Cites-listed species requires the concerted effort of all stakeholders. The fight goes beyond Singapore and requires strong cooperation at the bilateral, regional and international levels. Such cooperation must include countries that are the source of and destination for such products.

Leong Chee Chiew (Dr)

Director-General

Wildlife Trade Control

National Parks Board