Singapore has begun crushing nine tonnes of elephant ivory seized from the illegal wildlife trade.
The destruction began yesterday, the eve of World Elephant Day, and may take up to five days to complete. The ivory crushing event—the largest in recent years—was live-streamed by Singapore’s National Parks Board (NParksSG).
After breaking the ivory into fragments with an industrial rock crusher, the remaining pieces will be incinerated. This prevents items from re-entering the global supply chain and disrupts the illegal elephant ivory market.
The stock was seized between 2014 and 2019. It includes 8.8 tons of ivory acquired last year in Singapore’s biggest-ever seizure to date, which is worth Sg$17.6 million, or approximately $13 million US dollars.
“Singapore adopts a zero-tolerance stance on the illegal trade in wildlife,” said Joseph Koh, Chairman of World Wide Fund for Nature Singapore, in a statement sent to LIVEKINDLY. “This sends a clear signal to poachers, traffickers, and dealers, that Singapore resolves to stamp out the illegal trade in wildlife passing through our city.”
Judith Soh, the Communications Manager at NParksSG, told LIVEKINDLY that the event coincided with the launch of Singapore’s first-ever Centre for Wildlife Forensics (CWF). The new center can support the identification of specimens obtained from the illegal wildlife trade.
The crushed ivory includes tusks illegally poached from more than 300 African elephants. According to Soh, the entire event marked a government-wide approach to “strengthen Singapore’s role in the international fight against illegal trade in wildlife.”
The Illegal Elephant Ivory Trade
In Africa and Asia, illegal poaching has reduced elephant populations significantly over the last century. The global elephant ivory trade has been outlawed since 1989 after the population of African elephants, in particular, fell from millions to approximately 600,000.
Several state-wide bans in the U.S. prohibit the sale of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn, including Washington DC and Illinois. Despite this, the U.S. remains one of the largest markets for illegally trafficked ivory.
China announced a plan to close its domestic ivory market in 2017. While in 2018, the UK implemented one of the world’s most restrictive ivory bans. It aims to protect hippos, walruses, and narwhals, in addition to elephants and rhinoceros.
In late 2019, Yahoo! Japan banned the sale of ivory following pressure from Humane Society International (HSI). Also last year, Singapore announced a ban on the domestic trade of elephant ivory. This is due to come into effect from September 2021.