AVA crushes 7.9 tonnes of seized elephant ivory worth about $13m

Elephant ivory seized from various detections in recent years are crushed at Tuas South Street 7.
Elephant ivory seized from various detections in recent years are crushed at Tuas South Street 7. PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Elephant ivory seized from various detections in recent years are crushed at Tuas South Street 7.
Elephant ivory seized from various detections in recent years are crushed at Tuas South Street 7.PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Elephant ivory seized from various detections in recent years are crushed at Tuas South Street 7.
Elephant ivory seized from various detections in recent years are crushed at Tuas South Street 7.PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Mr Desmond Lee (right), Senior Minister of State for National Development and Home Affairs, inspecting elephant ivory at Tuas South Street 7.
Mr Desmond Lee (right), Senior Minister of State for National Development and Home Affairs, inspecting elephant ivory at Tuas South Street 7. PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Senior Minister of State Desmond Lee feeding elephant ivory into the industrial rock crusher.
Senior Minister of State Desmond Lee feeding elephant ivory into the industrial rock crusher.PHOTO: AVA
Some of the destroyed illegal ivory by a rock-crusher machinery in Singapore on June 13.
Some of the destroyed illegal ivory by a rock-crusher machinery in Singapore on June 13. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Some 7.9 tonnes of elephant ivory seized over two years were crushed and incinerated at an eco-waste incineration plant on Monday (June 13).

The ivory - estimated to be worth about S$13 million today - was first pulverised by an industrial rock crusher before being incinerated.

The ashes will subsequently be used as landfill at Pulau Semakau, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) said in a press release.

This is the first time AVA has crushed seized ivory, which the authority said would "send a strong signal of Singapore's zero tolerance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species and their parts".

Senior Minister of State for National Development and Home Affairs Desmond Lee, who was present, said: "By crushing the ivory, we ensure that it does not re-enter the ivory market.

"Tackling this illicit trade requires close international cooperation, and also the assistance of the public and NGOs. We will continue our enforcement efforts, to prevent Singapore from being used as a transit point."


GRAPHIC: AVA

Mr Lee was joined by foreign diplomats from the British High Commission and the US Embassy to Singapore, representatives from agencies such as Singapore Customs and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority as well as from the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, Wildlife Reserves Singapore and wildlife conservation groups.

AVA added that Singapore is a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), an international agreement to ensure that trade does not threaten wildlife species with extinction.

It said tackling the wildlife illegal trade would require a concerted effort.

Urging the public to play their part, AVA's CEO Tan Poh Hong said: "Demand is the impetus for poachers of endangered animals.

"The public can help reduce demand by not buying such products. When demand falls, poaching will naturally fall too."

Members of the public with information on the illegal trade can contact AVA on 68052992 or submit their online feedback via its website, www.ava.gov.sg.

The AVA said it adopts a multi-pronged approach to week out the trade in Singapore.

Upstream measures

  • Regulation of trade;
  • Public education on Cites and endangered species, including working closely with website administrators of online classified forums to post warning messages on possession and sales of illegal wildlife on their platform, and engaging stakeholders and industry players to educate and update about cites regulations and listing of new species on Cites;
  • Conducting regular in-house sharing sessions with partner enforcement agencies to enhance their knowledge on Cites.

Downstream measures

  • Routine monitoring of retail outlets (eg. aquarium shops and Traditional Chinese Medicine stores) and online sources for sale of illegal wildlife and wildlife parts/products;
  • Conducting regular, unannounced checks on retail outlets;
  • Conducting 100 per cent inspections on Cites shipments including those from high risk countries at ports of entry/exit;
  • Collaborating with international, regional and national enforcement agencies on border inspections and investigations;
  • Taking enforcement action and imposing penalties including jail sentences and fines to deter would-be offenders.

Those convicted under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act could be fined up to $50,000 per specimen (not exceeding an aggregate of $500,000) and/or jailed up to two years.