Singapore seizes Kenyan ivory worth Shs 570m

Singapore authorities Tuesday seized the biggest illegal shipment of ivory and other exotic animal parts from Kenya, worth an estimated 6 million dollars an equivalent of 570 million Kenya shillings.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority in collaboration with the Singapore Customs said the animal parts were discovered stashed among bags of tea leaves in two 20-foot containers while transiting through the city-state to Vietnam.

Authorities uncovered 1,783 pieces of raw ivory tusk hidden among the bags.

Four pieces of rhino horns and 22 teeth believed to be from African big cats, including cheetahs and leopards, were also found in the containers.

A statement from the authorities seen by AFP says the haul weighed 3.7 tonnes and is the largest seizure of illegal ivory in Singapore since 2002 when six tonnes of ivory were intercepted.

Shipping of ivory has been banned since 1989 under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna  (CITES), to which Singapore is a signatory.

Ivory ornaments are coveted in Asian countries like Vietnam, Thailand and China despite fears that the trade is pushing wild elephants to extinction.

Rhino horn is prized for its supposedly medicinal properties.