Singapore crushes massive ivory haul on eve of World Elephant Day

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 11 2020 05:21 PM

Singapore began destroying nine tonnes of seized ivory Tuesday, the largest such action globally in recent years, including contraband tusks that came from more than 300 African elephants.

The destruction by an industrial rock crusher was held on the eve of World Elephant Day, and aims to prevent the items from re-entering the market and disrupt the global supply chain of illegally traded ivory, Singapore's National Parks Board said.

A spokeswoman for the board told AFP it would take three to five days for all of the ivory -- seized between 2014 and 2019 -- to be crushed, after which the fragments will be incinerated.

"This ivory crushing event, the largest globally in recent years, demonstrates Singapore's strong determination and commitment to combat the illegal trade in wildlife," the board said in a statement.

The items include 8.8 tonnes of ivory seized last year in Singapore's biggest haul worth Sg$17.6 million (US$13 million), it said.

Singapore also Tuesday launched a Centre for Wildlife Forensics to "identify and analyze specimens involved in the illegal wildlife trade".

By using DNA analysis and other methods to study the specimens, the center can determine where the items were poached from -- a useful tool in the fight against illegal wildlife trade.

Elephant ivory is coveted because it can be fashioned into items like combs, pendants and other exotic jewelry.

The global trade in elephant ivory, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 after the population of the African animals dropped from millions in the mid-20th century to about 600,000 by the end of the 1980s.