In two separate cases, approximately 2,800 kilograms of pangolin scales and 3.5 tons of ivory – both originating from Nigeria – have been seized by Hong Kong and Singapore custom officials respectively.
Hong Kong Customs on Wednesday (March 7) seized about 2,800 kilograms of suspected pangolin scales with an estimated market value of about $3.3 million from a container at the Tsing Yi Cargo Examination Compound.
Through risk assessment, customs officers inspected a 40-foot container declared to contain metal scraps arriving in Hong Kong from Nigeria. Upon inspection, Customs officers found the suspected pangolin scales in the container.
Investigation is ongoing.
Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing or exporting unmanifested cargo is liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years. Under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing or exporting an endangered species without a licence is liable to a maximum fine of $5 million and imprisonment for two years.
A huge shipment containing 3.5 tons of elephant ivory was seized in Singapore en route to Vietnam on March 8 (Thursday), authorities said. Officials said the shipment had arrived from Nigeria, the Strait Times reported.
An inspection uncovered ivory that could have fetched around $2.5 million on the black market, the report said.
Elephants are a protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, of which both Singapore and Vietnam are signatories.
Vietnam outlawed the ivory trade in 1992 but the country remains a top market for ivory products prized locally for decorative purposes or in traditional medicine, despite having no proven medicinal qualities. Weak law enforcement in the country has allowed a black market to flourish, and Vietnam is also a regular transit point for tusks trafficked from Africa destined for other parts of Asia, mainly China.
The country reported dozens of seizures last year, including one case in which three tons of ivory were found in the central province of Thanh Hoa in July.