SINGAPORE — Singapore authorities have seized $1.2 million worth of rhinoceros horns that were smuggled through Changi Airport, in the largest ever seizure of its kind in the city-state.
In a press release on Wednesday (5 October), the National Parks Board (NParks) said 20 pieces of rhinoceros horns weighing 34kg, which were found in two pieces of transit baggage bound for Laos, were seized on Tuesday by airport security and the NParks’ K9 Unit.
The owner of the bags, who was travelling from South Africa to Laos through Singapore, was arrested, NParks added.
Rhinoceros are protected and trading of their horns are prohibited under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which Singapore is a signatory.
"Genetic testing is being carried out at NParks’ Centre for Wildlife Forensics to identify the rhinoceros species. The horns will subsequently be destroyed to prevent them from re-entering the market, disrupting the global supply chain of illegally traded rhinoceros horns," NParks said.
Under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, an offender who is convicted of possessing CITES-scheduled species in transit in Singapore without a valid CITES permit faces a maximum fine of $50,000 per scheduled species – not exceeding a total of $500,000 – or a jail term of up to two years, or both.
The same penalties apply to the possession or transshipment of CITES-scheduled species, including their parts and derivatives.
"Singapore adopts a zero-tolerance stance on the illegal trade of endangered wildlife species, and their parts and derivatives," said NParks.
Local agencies collaborate closely with international partners to enforce against illegal wildlife trade, it added.
"The community can play a key role as well by ensuring their purchases do not contain animal parts of endangered species, and not contributing to the demand for the illegal trade of wildlife."
Members of the public can contact NParks at firstname.lastname@example.org if they spot any incidents of illegal wildlife trade.
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