Online platforms mobilized to fight the sale of ivory products as Singapore’s national ban takes effect, Singapore News & Top Stories
SINGAPORE – Sellers of ivory products online have now been “hunted” after the nationwide ban on these items launched this month (September).
Authorities are working with online platforms to ensure all ivory lists are removed, while sites such as Carousell and Facebook have pledged to ban such content, ads and lists.
Those who sell elephant ivory or ivory products, or who have exhibited these items to the public for sale, can be charged under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act. Those convicted can be jailed for up to 12 months or fined up to $ 10,000 per specimen, not exceeding $ 100,000 in total, or both.
Dr Adrian Loo, group director of wildlife management at the National Parks Board (NParks), told the Straits Times his staff are working closely with e-commerce platforms, including Carousell, to remove any post or list displaying an ivory product, or the likeness of it.
A spokesperson for Carousell said it uses techniques such as artificial intelligence to accurately detect these prohibited items, including product listings where their details may not be explicitly stated.
A Facebook spokesperson said it is banning content and advertisements attempting to trade, sell or buy endangered or threatened wildlife and animal products or parts, although he did not specify how this is done.
Ms Anbarasi Boopal, deputy executive director of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), said the online ivory trade on social media and other business platforms remains widespread.
Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) – to which Singapore is a party – global trade in elephant ivory has been banned since 1990.
In 2019, the Republic banned international trade in elephant ivory. It allowed internal trade if traders could prove that their items had been imported before 1990, or acquired before the elephant species in question was listed in Cites.
Ms Boopal said the two-year grace period gives sellers time to ensure they can comply and liquidate the inventory they own.
However, there have been instances where ivory products have been mislabelled or claimed to be old stock during this period, so the general ban is now clearer with regards to enforcement. , she added.
Singapore’s efforts to combat illegal trade have also been bolstered through the use of new technologies and genetic sequencing tools.
For example, ivory products that have been processed and may not have identifiable physical characteristics, such as bird cages, will be taken to the Center for Wildlife Forensics at NParks for DNA analysis.
“If it is confirmed that these items are elephant ivory or ivory products, they will be destroyed to prevent them from re-entering the market,” Dr Loo said.
In June and July of last year, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority informed NParks of several packages suspected of containing ivory.
“The specimens were examined and distinct physical patterns of ivory were observed on some of the pieces,” Dr Loo said. The articles were taken to the Center for Wildlife Forensics for further molecular analysis, he added.
Of the 95 samples, 62 were identified as from the savannah elephant (Loxodonta africana) and 16 from cattle (Bos taurus). The remaining 17 samples gave inconclusive results because these specimens had severely degraded DNA.
These cases go to court.
To prevent Singapore from being used as a transshipment hub for illegal wildlife trade, border detection capabilities are enhanced, with the deployment of a K9 unit of specially trained dogs to detect illegal cash trafficking wild.