Customs authorities in Singapore seized $48 million in illegal ivory from hundreds of elephants and pangolin scales from as many as 2,000 of the anteaterlike animals.
Investigators, after a tip from China's customs department, discovered the illegal ivory, which they estimated came from as many as 300 African elephants, and pangolin scales in three shipping containers that were listed as holding timber, according to a statement from NParks.
The containers originated in the Democratic Republic of Congo and were headed for Vietnam.
"These latest seizures are testament to Singapore's commitment to the global effort to stem illegal trade in CITES-listed species, including their parts and derivatives," NParks officials said. CITES stands for Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Officials said they plan on destroying the seized scales and ivory.
"The Singapore government adopts a zero tolerance stance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species and their parts and derivatives," NParks said.
“Our agencies will continue to collaborate and maintain vigilance to tackle the illegal wildlife trade.”
Eight species of pangolins live in Asia and Africa and range from vulnerable to critically endangered. All eight species are protected under international laws. Their meat is considered a delicacy in some countries and their scales are believed to contain medicinal qualities.
Ivory, which is used to make jewelry, combs and other items, has been illegal since the late 1980s, when the population of elephants in Africa dropped from the millions in the mid-20th century to about a half-million by 1989.
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