Singapore said it will impose a blanket ban on the domestic sale of elephant ivory and products from 2021 as the government tightens its campaign against illegal wildlife trade.
The announcement on World Elephant Day followed two years of consultations with non-government groups, ivory retailers and the public. Authorities in the city-state made their largest ever seizure of smuggled ivory last month, impounding a haul of nearly nine tonnes of contraband tusks from an estimated 300 African elephants valued at $12.9 million.
The illegal cargo was discovered in a container from the Democratic Republic of the Congo being shipped to Vietnam via Singapore and also included a huge stash of pangolin scales. “This nationwide ban highlights Singapore’s resolve in the fight against illegal trade in species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES),” NParks said in a press release.
While Singapore has banned international trade on all forms of elephant ivory products since 1990, domestic trade is still permitted if traders show that their items were imported before 1990 or were acquired before the inclusion of the relevant elephant species in CITES. After the ban comes into effect, traders can donate their stock to institutions for educational purposes or keep them. “Singapore’s decisive actions are important steps to protect wildlife as we continue to see dwindling populations across the globe. The domestic trade ban sends a strong signal to global governments and underlines the urgency to stop the illegal wildlife trade,” said WWF-Singapore CEO Maureen DeRooij.
The ban comes after about two years of consultation from 2017 with the public, including non-government organisations and ivory retailers.
In a public consultation conducted on the REACH portal from November to December last year, 99 per cent of respondents were supportive of the blanket ban.
Dr Leong Chee Chiew, Director-General, Wildlife Trade Control, said: “It is timely that we are announcing the domestic ban of trade in ivory on World Elephant Day. NParks, as the national authority that enforces CITES in Singapore, is committed to stopping the trade of elephant ivory and its products for the conservation and protection of the world’s elephants.”
Once the ban comes into effect, those who contravene it may be jailed up to a year.