Singapore Crushes 9 Tons Of Elephant Ivory & Launches New Center For Wildlife Forensics To Further Combat Illegal Wildlife Trade

Today, the National Parks Board, Singapore (NParks) crushed nine tons of ivory, worth S$18 million, to commemorate World Elephant Day, which falls on August 12th. Singapore’s ivory crushing event, the largest globally in recent years, demonstrates Singapore’s strong determination and commitment to combat the illegal trade in wildlife.

The destruction of the ivory seized from various shipments in past years will prevent it from re-entering the market and will disrupt the global supply chain of illegally traded ivory.

Singapore’s first Center for Wildlife Forensics (CWF) also launched today. The CWF will strengthen NParks’ detection and diagnostic capabilities by drawing upon expertise across NParks to identify and analyse specimens involved in the illegal wildlife trade. This will strengthen Singapore’s role in the international fight against the illegal trade in wildlife.

The CWF will focus on wildlife most severely impacted by the illegal wildlife trade, including: elephants, rhinoceros, pangolins, sharks, and rays.

Collaborations between NParks, Singapore Customs, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, as well as other international counterparts have enabled Singapore to seize record amounts of pangolin scales and elephant ivory that were en route to other countries in the region.

“The CITES secretariat has witnessed the high level of priority the government in Singapore affords to curtailing wildlife crime, and the sustained and coordinated involvement of multiple agencies in doing so. Singapore’s use of rigorous risk management and indicators has proven to be highly effective in the screening of suspicious cargo and passengers,” CITES Secretary General, Ms. Ivonne Higuero, said in a statement. The significant seizures made by authorities in Singapore underscore the efficiency of this approach, and the intelligence reports generated in this regard have also supported actions by other parties.”

Currently, Singapore identifies seized items through morphological and molecular analysis. Moving forward, the Center for Wildlife Forensics can utilize other DNA analysis methods such as next generation sequencing, and chemical methods such as mass spectrometry and isotope analysis, to provide greater resolution and deeper insights on the seized items, such as the origin of the population of species that have been poached. This information can help international organizations and source countries to undertake further investigations and enforcements against poachers and smugglers. These capabilities will also enable the analysis of seizures throughout the globe to identify potential linkages and syndicates through collaborations with international experts and organizations.

“The launch of a Center for Wildlife Forensics in Singapore represents a major step towards strengthening the country’s knowledge and capabilities. The Center will establish a dedicated capacity building entity for enforcement officers, providing training for the complex task of detecting illegal wildlife and wildlife products,” continued Higuero. “This is exactly the kind of response that is needed to tackle illegal wildlife crime. Forensic applications must fully be used to combat illegal trade in wildlife.”

The Center for Wildlife Forensics will also strengthen Singapore’s commitment to conserve biodiversity in the country’s nature reserves and parks.

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