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Singapore to ban domestic elephant ivory trade

August 12, 2019

From September 2021, Singapore will ban local sales of ivory, removing a key end market for the valuable material. Some 100 African elephants are estimated to be killed each day by poachers who want their tusks.

Singapore authorities show elephant tusks seized on July 23, 2019
Image: picture-alliance/Xinhua/Then Chih Wey

Singapore on Monday announced it will ban the domestic sale of ivory from September 2021, closing an important market for poached elephant ivory.

"The ban will mean that the sale of elephant ivory and ivory products, and public display of elephant ivory and ivory products for the purpose of sale will be prohibited," the National Parks Board, a government agency, said in a statement that coincided with World Elephant Day.

International trade in ivory has been banned since 1990 under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international treaty signed by most countries.

However, activists say poached ivory can be disguised as legal as long as trade is allowed in licensed outlets and online.

International trade in all elephant ivory products have been banned in Singapore since 1990.

Such items could be sold domestically if traders could prove they were imported before that year or acquired prior to the inclusion of the relevant elephant species in an international convention protecting endangered species.

China, the largest end market for elephant ivory, banned domestic trade in 2017.

100 African elephants killed annually

Demand for ivory from Asian countries such as China and Vietnam, where it is turned into jewels and ornaments, has led to a surge in poaching across Africa.

An estimated 100 African elephants are killed each day by poachers seeking ivory, meat and body parts, leaving only 400,000 remaining, according to estimates by environmentalists.

Authorities in Singapore made their largest ever seizure of smuggled ivory last month, confiscating a haul of nearly nine tons of contraband tusks from an estimated 300 African elephants valued at $12.9 million.

The illegal cargo was found in a container from the Democratic Republic of the Congo being shipped to Vietnam via Singapore and also included a huge amount of pangolin scales.

law/aw (AFP, Reuters)

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