Singapore Ivory Seizure – Time to Move Beyond Seizures says IFAW

archive photo © IFAW
Thursday, 3 April, 2014
Cape Town, South Africa

As Singapore said today it had intercepted a tonne of smuggled ivory – the second large scale seizure by the island state in three months – the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – called for improved international intelligence to stop poaching and illegal ivory trade.

“It’s time to move beyond seizures,” said Kelvin Alie, Director of IFAW’s Wildlife Trade Programme. “While IFAW applauds any confiscation of illegal ivory, it’s crucial that governments look beyond seizures as the answer to disrupting trafficking.

“The only way Singapore and others are going to stop poaching of elephants and illegal trade is by cooperating with agencies such as Interpol, and the law enforcement bodies of other governments to map and profile those behind this transnational criminal activity and dedicate the resources needed to reduce the capacity of those who seek profit from ivory trafficking.
Singapore said today it had intercepted a one tonne consignment of smuggled ivory tusks last Thursday (27th March). The ivory was shipped from Africa in 15 boxes declared as holding “coffee berries” said a statement by Singapore’s Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA). The boxes contained 106 tusks.

“This is the second large ivory seizure in Singapore this year,” said Alie. “In January, Singapore confiscated 1.8 tonnes of pieces of raw ivory tusks.

“It’s not good enough to simply say the ivory came from Africa. There is a great need to focus on strategies which seek to deter and halt the killing of these magnificent creatures.

“Seizures of ivory are not a good news story in the fight against poaching and illegal trafficking, they are just the public face of a very tragic scenario that is killing upwards of 35,000 elephants a year,” he said.

The largest ever seizure of illegal ivory by Singapore was in 2002 when authorities confiscated six tonnes of tusk and ivory pieces.

As one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities, valued at US$19-billion annually, illegal wildlife trade ranks fifth globally in terms of value, behind the trafficking in drugs, people, oil and counterfeiting.

Most illegal ivory is destined for Asia, in particular China, where it has soared in value as an investment vehicle and is coveted as “white gold”. Availability of legal ivory in China purchased form the stockpile sale in southern Africa in 2008 has, in turn, boosted demand encouraging illegal ivory trade and the poaching of elephant to meet market needs.

As part of a worldwide capacity building initiative IFAW trains law enforcement officers in wildlife trafficking prevention in several countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Oceania, and the Caribbean. The organization works with Interpol’s Environmental Crime Programme, and the two have collaborated on numerous projects since 2005 including Interpol’s largest-ever illegal ivory trade operation in 2012.


The IFAW report, Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade, documents the threat the illegal trade poses to animals like elephants and rhinos, and also people.

The learn more about the illegal ivory trade, download IFAW’s digital magazine Unveiling the Ivory Trade.

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
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Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
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