Parliament: Singapore may ban domestic sale of ivory

A file photo from 2016 showing workers loading pieces of seized ivory onto an excavator which dropped them into an industrial rock crusher. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Government may ban ivory from being sold in Singapore, said Minister of State for National Development Koh Poh Koon on Wednesday (March 1).

The move is part of the Republic's commitment to tackle the illegal ivory trade, and support the conservation of elephants, said Dr Koh in response to Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC), who had asked if the state would consider such a ban.

The authorities are working out a plan to engage relevant stakeholders, and how to implement the ban, Dr Koh added.

When asked when the ban would kick in, he said the public will be informed after the ministry has engaged stakeholders.

Singapore has banned the commercial import and export of ivory since 1990. Non-commercial import and export for purposes such as research, and museum display, are allowed with approval from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

Selling and buying of ivory in Singapore is allowed, however.

In June last year, AVA crushed and burnt about 7.9 tonnes of smuggled elephant ivory, estimated to be worth about $13 million.

AVA had said then that pulverising seized ivory - the first time Singapore has done so - sends a strong signal that the Republic does not tolerate being a conduit for smuggling endangered species and their parts.

While conservation groups had welcomed the move then, some called for stricter regulations to curb illegal wildlife trade further.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.