AVA destroys $13m worth of seized ivory

160702 destroy ivory

A huge load of smuggled elephant ivory, estimated to be worth about $13 million, was pulverised and incinerated by the Singapore authorities yesterday.

This is the first time that the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) is crushing seized ivory and strongly signals that Singapore does not tolerate being a conduit for smuggling endangered species and their parts, AVA said.

In all, 7.9 tonnes of ivory was crushed yesterday, some of it at an event in Tuas attended by Senior Minister of State for National Development and Home Affairs Desmond Lee.

At the event, workers loaded pieces of ivory onto an excavator which dropped them into an industrial rock crusher.

Small pieces of crushed ivory came out on a conveyer belt and these were poured into a container. The pieces were later incinerated at an eco-waste incineration plant and the ashes will be used as landfill at Pulau Semakau.

The ivory that was crushed came from four seizures over 2014 and last year. The largest one took place in May last year where a shipment, declared as tea leaves from Kenya bound for Vietnam, was intercepted by the local authorities.

It was found to contain illegal wildlife parts, including 1,783 ivory tusks weighing about 4.6 tonnes and estimated to be worth about $8 million.

Mr Lee said in a statement: “By crushing the ivory, we ensure it does not re-enter the ivory market … We will continue enforcement efforts, to prevent Singapore from being used as a transit point.”

Most of the ivory seized by the local authorities in the past decade happened in recent years.

Last year, 6.85 tonnes of ivory tusks were seized. In 2014 and 2013, 1.08 and 1.8 tonnes of ivory were seized respectively.

AVA said the public can also play a role in tackling the illegal wildlife trade by not buying products that come from such trade.

Conservation groups welcomed the move to crush the ivory, with some calling for stricter regulation to curb illegal wildlife trade further.


Excerpt taken from the article published by The Straits Times, Jun 14, 2016, 5:00 am

Author: Jeremy Koh




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