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Singapore seizes ivory disguised as coffee berries

04 april 2014, 10:19
©Reuters/Agri-Food and Veterinary
©Reuters/Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority

Singapore authorities said Thursday they had intercepted about one tonne of ivory worth $1.6 million in a shipping container from Africa marked as carrying coffee berries, AFP reports.

The seizure was made in an export inspection station at the Pasir Panjang port on March 25 following a tip-off, Singapore Customs and the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) said in a statement.

"The shipment, which was declared as coffee berries, was transiting through Singapore from Africa in a 20-foot (six-metre) container and destined for another Asian country," the statement said.

The shipment contained 106 pieces of raw ivory tusks weighing about one tonne, it said.

The statement did not mention if arrests had been made, but said investigations are ongoing.

International trade in ivory has been banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1989.

Singapore, a major global port, is a signatory to the convention.

The statement urged shipping and logistics firms in Singapore to "exercise prudence" when accepting jobs from customers to avoid being implicated in illegal wildlife trafficking.

The ivory haul last week is the third largest by Singapore authorities since 2002.

In January last year, 1.8 tonnes of ivory from Africa was seized in the city-state, while six tonnes of raw ivory tusks and cut pieces were intercepted in 2002.

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