Singapore

The fate of confiscated items in Singapore

NParks crushes animal parts, SFA destroys illegal food imports, the police auctions various items

Singapore has said it is committed to a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to illegal wildlife trafficking.

In a move praised by environmental groups, the National Parks Board (NParks) crushed and incinerated close to 9 tonnes of confiscated illegal ivory from Aug 11 to Aug 13.

Ivory, however, is just one of several illegal items seized and destroyed by Singapore authorities.

Snake wines, hard corals and marine turtle eggs are also seized by NParks, while the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) deals with illegally imported vegetables and fruits.

NParks has in the past confiscated a taxidermised gila monster - a species of venomous lizard - and a nautilus shell.

Last year, the board seized 638 wildlife parts and products, 37.5 tonnes of pangolin scales and close to 9 tonnes of ivory and ivory products.

NParks said it is standard practice to destroy all confiscated wildlife parts and products.

It added that destruction of these items prevents the products from re-entering the market, although "a few are kept for educational purposes" and displayed in outreach programmes in schools or during learning journeys with youth groups.

The highly publicised destruction of ivory was praised by Ms Anbarasi Boopal, deputy executive of wildlife rescue group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society.

"(It shows) a stronger commitment to tackling the issue of wildlife trade and is in line with the soon to come into force ban in domestic trade in ivory," she said.

NParks also noted that it works with various partners, such as Wildlife Reserves Singapore, to care for smuggled live wild animals and analyse seized items to identify their origin.

Similarly, illegally imported food products are destroyed, as they are "of unknown sources and can pose a food safety risk", said the SFA, which dealt with 126 cases of illegal food imports last year.

While it might seem like a waste, the agency pointed out that such unknown products could have adverse health effects.

For instance, one could ingest excessive pesticide residue from vegetables that have been treated with a high level of pesticides.

POLICE AUCTIONS

But certain confiscated items are not destined for disposal.

The Singapore Police Force flogs off suitable seized case exhibits - that the courts have ordered to be surrendered to the state - in police auctions that are held twice or thrice a year, said the police in response to queries.

Also offered at these auctions are unclaimed items from the force's found and unclaimed property office, and police assets that have been condemned.

The auctions often attract bargain hunters who come for the watches, jewellery, cameras or even e-scooters and sports cars on offer.

In the March auction this year, items offered included Cartier bracelets, Omega watches, Chanel earrings and a Mercedes-Benz car.

Last year, a used Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SuperVeloce fetched $246,000 at a police auction, far below its then open market value average of $491,000.

Bargain hunter Spring Sun, 41, a multimedia designer, said such good deals can often be found at auctions.

It does not bother her that the items there have been used by others or might even be the proceeds of crime, she added.

"If you think about it, plenty of things out there have been used by someone else," she said.

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