AVA seeking feedback on ban of elephant ivory sale and display in Singapore

Some 3,500kg of illegal ivory was seized in Singapore in March 2018 after it was shipped from Nigeria, en route to Vietnam.
Some 3,500kg of illegal ivory was seized in Singapore in March 2018 after it was shipped from Nigeria, en route to Vietnam.PHOTO: AVA

SINGAPORE - The sale and display of elephant ivory in Singapore may soon be illegal, under a proposed ban by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to strengthen the Republic's stance against the trade in tusks and elephant poaching.

Singapore is among the countries that have banned the commercial import and export of all forms of ivory products since 1990, though the domestic sale of ivory is still allowed if certain conditions are met, such as if sellers can prove that the items were imported prior to the ban.

The AVA is seeking feedback on its proposal to completely prohibit elephant ivory sales in Singapore under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, according to a public consultation launched on Tuesday (Nov 27).

This means that local businesses and individuals will no longer be able to buy or sell all forms of elephant ivory products in Singapore, while the public display of such products will also be banned except for educational purposes, such as at museums or the zoo.

"The proposed ban is in line with Singapore's broader commitment to tackle the illegal elephant ivory trade and support elephant conservation. It also sends a strong signal that Singapore is committed to curb demand for ivory products despite our small and inactive domestic market," the AVA said on the government Reach website.

If the ban is passed, a grace period of up to three years will be provided for ivory owners to decide what to do with their existing stocks, such as keeping, donating or destroying the ivory, the AVA said.

The issue came under the spotlight here in August when an online store claiming to sell "vintage" ivory turned out to be part of a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore campaign to raise awareness of the ivory trade.

Those who wish to provide feedback on the proposal can write to AVA's headquarters or e-mail AVA_CITES@ava.gov.sg by Dec 27.