On 31 July 2018, the World Wide Fund for Nature in Singapore launched Ivory Lane, an online shop hawking modern vintage “ivory” accessories. Necklaces, earrings, home accessories – you name it, it was available at the click of a button.
Why did the world’s biggest conservation group set up an ivory shop in Singapore?
One African elephant is killed every 25 minutes for its ivory. We are facing a global elephant poaching crisis, one driven by demand for status symbols, profits criminal syndicates, and takes advantage of weaknesses in law and enforcement.
Singapore is implicated in the ivory trade. The country is a major transshipment point, and WWF has found over 40 shops selling ivory products, catering to local demand. Many people do not know this. They even think ivory has already been banned.
To highlight this loophole, we set up a completely legal ivory shop right here, in Singapore. No approvals or licenses were needed. Ivory Lane just had to claim that its ivory products were sourced from old stock. It was that easy!
We launched the shop online and let the people of Singapore deliver their verdict. The reactions came in immediately.
Unbeknownst to everyone, by debating Ivory Lane they were actually helping to highlight legal loopholes in Singapore that allow the sales of ivory to continue.
Here it is: Singapore’s Voice on Ivory Trade.
It is not okay for the ivory trade to be legal.
“A legal loophole does not make the ivory trade ethical. I will not stimulate demand for ivory, and I do not encourage poaching.”
“You can’t shut down (this business) with a letter to the authorities as they are distributing a legal product. If this is a moral issue.. why not let the people of Singapore decide for themselves what sort of business they’d like to patronise?”
“What the flying fish is legally sourced ivory? You asked permission from elephants before extracting their tusks is it? Or you took them from Sharity Elephant?”
Vintage or not, any sales of ivory creates demand.
“The point is that what you do now is creating a demand for ivory. Be it vintage or not.”
“I’m so shocked. These are old ivory but they are recreating a demand for it with this business. Most young people don’t even know ivory from elephants are made into accessories. Why start again?”
Lend your voice and support the decision makers.
“I just sent a screenshot of the shop and made a complaint to a MP. He will be speaking up about protection of wildlife in Parliament.”
“What is the timeline AVA?? How soon!”
Within just a week of its launch, Ivory Lane was already making headlines across Singapore and even the region. We were compelled to an early reveal on 8 August 2016. Read our statement here.
Overnight, the campaign became a global sensation, making headlines around the world.
Some called it a PR stunt, others called it “fake news”. But for every person that reacted negatively, nine others are now aware of wildlife laws in Singapore and importantly, what had to be done.
Post-Ivory Lane, the fight continues. We need to close all legal loopholes that allow ivory and other types of illegal wildlife trade to continue, and we need stronger wildlife laws in Singapore.
If you need another reason why we need to take action urgently, here’s one: the demand still exists. Amidst the online uproar, Ivory Lane actually received private messages from interested buyers of ivory.
“Do you guys [stock other items with ivory?] I considered your bracelet line but I’d rather get something more functional.”
“These look rather exquisite. Do I order online or do you have a shop here?”
“Is there a any showroom or boutique where we can see and feel your products in the flesh? We would like to view in real life before purchase. Are you open to B2B wholesale or are you just focusing on retail?”
When the demand stops, so will the trade.
Do so by lending your voice to stop illegal wildlife trade: #StoptheTrade. Help in law enforcement by reporting any shops that you suspect sell illegal wildlife products at: wwf.sg/VR.