Singapore authorities are returning about 4,000 pounds of ivory tusks to Kenya for investigation that were found packed in 65 gunny sacks and falsely declared as waste paper, according to a report in BusinessStandard.
Authorities seized the shipment, estimated to be worth $1.97 million, in January when it was in transit in Singapore en route to another country from Kenya.
Hong Kong authorities this month announced one of the largest seizures of smuggled ivory ever in the city — and their fifth since October — highlighting the all-out crisis for elephant populations in Africa, New York Times reported. The 4,800 pound shipment is worth an estimated $2.25 million, the customs department said. The tusks were hidden in a container coming from the West African country of Togo.
Demand for ivory comes mainly from China, where it is highly prized in ornaments and sells for hundreds of dollars per kilogram on the black market, according to the New York Times. Tens of thousands of elephants have been killed for their tusks in recent years in Africa, where the revenues from poached ivory are thought to be fueling conflicts across the continent.
The Singapore ivory was inspected and verified by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, which said no local importer was involved in the case.
Singapore authorities are working with the Kenyan Wildlife Service, Kenyan Police and the Lusaka Agreement Taskforce in returning the tusks to Africa.
The shipment was the second largest ivory seizure in Singapore since 2002.
All African and Asian elephants are endangered species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Singapore is part of the convention which has banned international trade in ivory since 1989.
The maximum penalty for illegal trade of ivory in Singapore is a fine of $39,400 or up to two years in prison.