AVA mulling complete ban on ivory sale in S'pore

Good news for animal lovers.

Matthias Ang| November 28, 10:44 AM

A total ban on the sale of elephant ivory and ivory products in Singapore is in the works.

On Nov. 27, the Agri-Food Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) launched a public consultation for the proposed ban of Ivory in Singapore.

The aim of the consultation is to seek feedback from the public about the proposal and will last for a month, until Dec 27.

In fact, the consultation paper noted that jurisdictions such as China, Hong Kong, the United States, and the United Kingdom have taken action or announced plans to ban/restrict domestic trade in elephant ivory. 

In particular, China and the United Kingdom have since come to enforce total bans on the sale of the ivory in their own countries.

The proposal for a complete ban on the sale in ivory in Singapore had been floated as far back as March 2017.

Still possible to sell ivory here, provided ivory comes from stock older than 1990

Currently, the sale of ivory in Singapore by local businesses is legal if the ivory was obtained before 1990, the year that a ban on its import and export was enacted.

This ban was enacted as part of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), of which Singapore is a party to.

AVA has also warned in a public advisory that it is an offence to illegally import/export, possess, sell, offer/advertise for sale or display to public any illegal wildlife species (including their parts and derivatives) protected under CITES.

This includes the elephant and its parts and products such as ivory, with the offence applying to online sale and online offers for sale.

A seller of ivory products in Singapore therefore has the responsibility to prove that the ivory specimen dates back to before 1990.

However, as highlighted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), it is difficult to distinguish old from recently-acquired ivory.

And it was this loophole that became the focus of a recent controversial stunt by WWF Singapore, when it "launched" a "shop" called Ivory Lane, which claimed to sell the “purest form of ivory, sourced from the natural environments of central Africa”.

Prior to the revelation of the stunt, the shop triggered a massive backlash online.

On top of that, WWF Singapore also found that more than 40 local shops were still selling ivory.

New proposal to ban all forms of elephant ivory

Such a gap is expected to be resolved under the new proposal however, which aims to implement a total ban on local elephant ivory sales in Singapore under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act.

Under the proposed ban, local businesses and individuals will no longer be able to buy or sell all forms of elephant ivory products in Singapore.

Such products will also be banned from public display, unless it's for educational purposes, such as being displayed in a museum or zoo.

In the case of affected local businesses or individuals who have stocks of ivory, they will have a grace period of up to three years to decide between keeping, donating, or destroying the ivory.

Should you have feedback on the proposal, you can submit it in one of the two following ways:

  • By email to [email protected]
  • By mail to Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (Headquarters), JEM Office Tower 2, 52 Jurong Gateway Road, #14-01, Singapore 608550 (Attn: QIG/Wildlife - Public Consultation)

Top image collage from Wild Daze Facebook and Xu Chao for WWF China