Just days after the largest seizure of pangolin scales in five years globally, National Parks Board (NParks), Singapore Customs and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority made another discovery when they inspected a 40-footer container that was on its way from Nigeria to Vietnam. Upon inspection, 12.7 tonnes of pangolin scales, packed in 474 bags, worth about US$38.1 million (approximately RM157.6 million) were uncovered. The pangolin scales that were seized came from two species and are equivalent to around 21,000 pangolins.
This is the second seizure of pangolin scales made in just five days, bringing the total combined amount of pangolin scales seized on 3 April 2019 and 8 April 2019 to a record 25.6 tonnes. Previously in 2015 and 2016, Singapore made two pangolin scales seizures, amounting to 440kg.
As per a statement released by the customs department, both shipments were heading to Vietnam from Nigeria.
NParks, Singapore Customs and ICA have in place a risk assessment framework, where risk profiles and risk indicators are used to target shipment with illegal wildlife trade. There is also sharing of information amongst international agencies.
Singapore is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) and is committed to international effort to curb illegal wildlife trade. Elephants and pangolins are protected species under CITES. International trade in elephant ivory and pangolin is prohibited.
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 $500,000 or 2 years’ imprisonment. The same penalties apply to transit or transhipment of illegal wildlife species, including their parts and derivatives.