While the sale of ivory in Singapore has fallen over the years, the country remains a significant transit point for shipments of illegal ivory moving from Africa to Asia, and even within Asia itself, local TV Channel NewsAsia reported on Saturday.
Some of the illegal ivory shipments passing through Singapore have been declared as coffee berries, marble sculptures, and even waste paper, animal welfare activists were quoted as saying.
Authorities worked on tip-offs to intercept these shipments. The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said there have been eight illegal ivory seizures since 2008.
While some of the ivory was seized from travellers at ports of entry and from local shops, most were en route to other destinations.
Three of these seizures -- involving 244 pieces of ivory -- took place in the first three months of this year.
Activists said this could be the tip of the iceberg.
Elaine Tan, chief executive officer for World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore, was quoted as saying that there's a lot of this illegal ivory trade going on in Asia, and Singapore being in a very strategic position in Asia-Pacific.
"We are a major transit point. We have a very efficient and effective port. Consignments, shipments pass through very quickly and in some ways, I think this is a loophole being exploited by illegal traders," Tan said.
Some animal activists said more could be done to detect illegal wildlife shipments coming into and through Singapore, suggesting that sniffer dogs specifically trained to detect illegal wildlife products could be introduced at Singapore's border checkpoints.
This is already being done in countries like India, Thailand, and South Korea.