Singapore intercepts $1.3m ivory, pangolin scales shipment from Nigeria

singapore mapAn air shipment of ivory and pangolin scales worth $1.3 million from Nigeria has been intercepted and the products seized by the authorities at the Changi Airfreight Centre in Singapore which described the deal as illegal.

In a joint statement yesterday, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and Singapore Customs said they had been working closely to detect and intercept illegal shipments of wildlife and wildlife products through Singapore.

The intercepted 0.8 tonne shipment originated from Lagos and was on its way to Vientiane, Laos via Singapore.

It was learnt that the shipment was labelled “complete wigs of synthetic textile materials”, but when Singapore Customs and AVA officers inspected it, they found 255 pieces of raw elephant tusks weighing about 505kg, and pangolin scales weighing about 324kg.

The shipment was seized, making the fifth largest seizure of ivory by the Singapore authorities since 2002. A freight forwarding company in connection with the shipment is assisting AVA with the investigations.

Although Nigeria does not have a large catchment of forest elephants, Yankari Game Reserve contains the largest surviving elephant population in Nigeria, and one of the largest remaining in West Africa. Estimated at about 350 individuals, this population is perhaps the only viable one remaining in Nigeria. However, forest elephants, Loxodonta cyclotis, also live in small fragmented populations scattered across southern Nigeria.

Experts say Lagos could be a thriving market for ivory trade, as one elephant tusk can sell for N1,170,000, the equivalent of $4200. However, it is doubtful that local elephants provide the major source of supply for this trade.

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