When the Minister of State for National Development Dr Koh Poh Koon announced earlier this week that the government was considering a ban in the sale of ivory, Singaporeans from all walks of life gave a collective cheer. This was followed quickly by surprise and even shock. Isn’t ivory already banned? Why is Singapore only banning ivory now?
As the Conservation Resource Manager at WWF-Singapore, I’ve been “tusked” with answering your burning questions!
Why is Singapore only banning ivory now? Hasn’t there always been a ban?
You’re not wrong to be confused, folks! Here’s the deal: It has been illegal since 1990 for countries to buy and sell ivory. However, ivory that entered the market before 1990 are still permitted for sale – even here in Singapore.
Some of you might have seen ivory products being sold and reported these instances to us, but they are not illegal if these specimens are proven to date back before 1990 international trade ban.
Are people still buying ivory in Singapore? WHY?
Let’s just say that in Singapore, ivory has gone the way of shoulder pads and mullets – and hopefully stays there.
Demand for ivory has been on on the decline here in Singapore at least for the last almost 20 years. A TRAFFIC survey in 2013 found that the number of retail outlets openly selling ivory products have declined significantly. Many retailers today are having trouble finding buyers for their stock.
Already excited about this ban? With your help, let’s make Singapore’s ivory trade a thing of the past by showing our government leaders that Singapore is fully behind this ivory ban! Copy and paste this suggested comment on the related Instagram post of the Minister of State for National Development: I fully support an ivory ban in Singapore, and would like to see it in effect as soon as possible! 🐘
Shouldn’t ivory trade already be on the decline after 25 years of an international ban?
Sadly, no. Perceptions of luxury have outweighed concerns for wildlife. Global demand for ivory remains high today. One African elephant is killed every 25 minutes by poachers! In terms of size, the biggest consumer markets for ivory today are China, the US, followed by Hong Kong. According to wildlife trade experts, ivory is also being stockpiled speculatively.
How will domestic ivory bans – such as the one we hope to have in Singapore – help save elephants?
It is difficult to tell the true age of an ivory product just by looking it. Banning the sale of all ivory – including pre-1990 stock – helps to remove the opportunity for traders to pass off newly poached ivory for vintage stock.
How does Singapore compare with other countries when it comes to an ivory ban?
With a ban in place, we will join others like China, the US and Hong Kong in sending a strong signal to the world that there is no longer a market for ivory.
China will ban all local sales of ivory by the end of this year, and Hong Kong will do so by 2021. A near-total ban took place in the US as of last year. Next, Europe. Pressure is now building up on the European countries to announce similar bans.
Want to see ivory gone for good in Singapore? Here are the questions you should be asking…
- How will the Singapore government implement this ban, and what’s the time frame?
- Will sellers of ivory need to surrender their stocks?
- What will the government do with these ivory stocks and will an audit be conducted?
- Are there any exceptions to the ban? For example, with musical instruments, museum exchanges etc.
With your help, we can make Singapore’s ivory trade a thing of the past. Let’s show our government leaders that Singapore is fully behind this ivory ban! Copy and paste this suggested comment on the related Instagram post of the Minister of State for National Development: I fully support an ivory ban in Singapore, and would like to see it in effect as soon as possible! 🐘