SINGAPORE: An illegal shipment carrying nearly 13 tonnes of pangolin scales, worth S$52.3 million, was intercepted and seized by Singapore authorities on Wednesday (Apr 3).
It was the largest seizure of pangolin scales globally in five years, said the Singapore Customs and National Parks Board (NParks). Around 17,000 pangolins were killed to make up the shipment.
The shipment was also carrying 177kg of cut up and carved elephant ivory, worth US$88,500, said Singapore Customs and NParks in a news release on Thursday.
The haul, which was en route from Nigeria to Vietnam, was discovered in a 40-footer container at the Pasir Panjang Export Inspection Station. It was declared to contain frozen beef.
The seizure was based on information received by Singapore Customs.
The scales come from four pangolin species that are native to Africa, namely the White-Bellied Tree Pangolin, Black-Bellied Tree Pangolin, Temminck’s Ground Pangolin and Giant Ground Pangolin.
Both pangolins and elephants are protected species and international trade in elephant ivory and pangolins are not allowed.
Under the Endangered Species (Import & Export) Act, the maximum penalty for illegal import, export and re-export of wildlife is a fine of up to S$500,000 and two years’ imprisonment.
The same penalties apply to transit or transhipment of illegal wildlife species, including their parts and derivatives.
The scales and ivory pieces will be destroyed following the seizure.