China’s never-ending demand for endangered elephant ivory remained unfulfilled Tuesday as a shipment from Kenya, declared as tea leaves, was found to contain about 3.7 tonnes of illegal ivory, making it the second largest seizure of illegal ivory by local authorities since 2002.
The seized shipment, which included four pieces of rhinoceros horns and 22 pieces lion teeth, is estimated to be worth $10 million.
The shipment was in two 20-footer containers from the African country and were transiting through Singapore to Vietnam and then onto China, the world’s largest consumer of endangered wildlife.
Upon inspecting the containers, Singapore authorities uncovered 1,783 pieces of raw ivory tusks. Further investigations into the shipment, which was seized last week, are underway.
International trade in ivory, rhinoceros horns and certain species of big cats’ teeth is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to which Singapore is a signatory. China is not a signatory and does little to stem the trade is endangered animals.
“The illegal trade of endangered animal parts is fueled by increasing demand and poaching. The Singapore Government has zero tolerance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species and their parts and products,” said Ms Lye Fong Keng, Deputy Director of Singapore’s Quarantine & Inspection Group, Wildlife Section.
“We will continue to cooperate and collaborate with partner enforcement agencies nationally and internationally to curb wildlife trafficking,” she added.