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FLORA AND FAUNA
Singapore seizes ivory disguised as coffee berries
by Staff Writers
Singapore (AFP) April 03, 2014


Interpol urges global strategy to stem tiger trade
Lyon (AFP) April 03, 2014 - Global police body Interpol on Thursday called for concerted international action to stem the highly lucrative tiger trade "if the species is to avoid extinction."

In a statement, the Lyon-based body called for the creation of a "cohesive global strategy" to fight increasingly well-organised gangs trafficking in tiger parts.

It called for the setting up of a network of intelligence analysts to coordinate cross-border information exchanges on the trade.

"Intelligence gathering and information sharing... are essential if law enforcement is to fully play its role in preventing criminals from driving this iconic species to extinction," David Higgins, head of Interpol's environmental security unit, said in the statement.

Interpol said it would organise a four-day meeting with experts in Lyon in May to begin coordinating efforts.

Tiger parts are coveted in some parts of Asia as ingredients in traditional medicine.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that the number of wild tigers has plunged from 100,000 in 1900 to around 3,200 today.

Singapore authorities said Thursday they had intercepted about one tonne of ivory worth $1.6 million in a shipping container from Africa marked as carrying coffee berries.

The seizure was made in an export inspection station at the Pasir Panjang port on March 25 following a tip-off, Singapore Customs and the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) said in a statement.

"The shipment, which was declared as coffee berries, was transiting through Singapore from Africa in a 20-foot (six-metre) container and destined for another Asian country," the statement said.

The shipment contained 106 pieces of raw ivory tusks weighing about one tonne, it said.

The statement did not mention if arrests had been made, but said investigations are ongoing.

International trade in ivory has been banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1989.

Singapore, a major global port, is a signatory to the convention.

The statement urged shipping and logistics firms in Singapore to "exercise prudence" when accepting jobs from customers to avoid being implicated in illegal wildlife trafficking.

The ivory haul last week is the third largest by Singapore authorities since 2002.

In January last year, 1.8 tonnes of ivory from Africa was seized in the city-state, while six tonnes of raw ivory tusks and cut pieces were intercepted in 2002.

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