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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Singapore Outlaws the Sale Of Rhino Horns

Singapore Outlaws the Sale Of Rhino Horns

SINGAPORE (AP) - Responding to criticisms that it was a center for illegal

trade of endangered animal species, Singapore recently banned the sale of rhinoceros

horns and rhinoceros products.

The import and export of rhinoceros products has been prohibited since 1986, when

this city-state was pressured by the United States to join CITES, the Convention

on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora.

But people who already had rhinoceros horns or products were allowed to continue

selling existing stocks until Nov. 20, when the government banned all such sales

in response to a call by CITES to take stricter measures.

"The rhinoceros is one of the most endangered animals in the world. Illegal

trade, poaching and habitat destruction has hastened its decline in the wild,"

a government statement said.

CITES and other wildlife organizations "have identified market demand for its

horns as one of the main factors contributing to the continued poaching and wanton

killing of the rhinoceros," it said.

People convicted of violating the new ban can get fined up to 2,000 Singaporean dollars

(U.S. $ 1,227) and/or spend three months behind bars for selling, offering, or displaying

rhino products for sale.

Fewer than 2,000 black rhinoceros remain in Zimbabwe and other African countries-sharply

reduced from a 1970 population of 65,000-and wildlife experts say the animals are

close to extinction. Other African and Asian rhinoceros species are also endangered

because their horns are valued for traditional Asian medicines and dagger handles.

Rhinoceros horns were sold mainly in Chinese medicine shops. Flakes scraped from

the horns are sold to be cooked in a broth.

The horn of an African rhinoceros could sell for as much as U.S. $2,000 a kilo, with

some Asian horns fetching about U.S. $28,000 a kilo.

Beside the black rhinoceros, there are about 5,500 white rhinoceros in Africa, and

three varieties of Asian rhinos found in much smaller numbers in Nepal and on the

Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra.

After years of delay, Singapore signed with CITES in 1986 only after Washington imposed

a ban on the import of all fish and wildlife exports from this island republic, including

tropical aquarium fish.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said at the time it was protesting Singapore's

refusal to comply with CITES and hampering U.S. efforts to eliminate trade in endangered

species. It accused Singapore of being a major trading center in such prohibited

items as rhinoceros horns.

The ban was lifted when Singapore signed the CITES treaty.

Two wildlife protection groups petitioned the U.S. government last week to impose

similar sanctions against China, Taiwan, South Korea and Yemen for allowing illegal

import of rhino horns.

The World Wildlife Fund and the National Wildlife Federation filed the petitions

in Washington on Nov. 14 with Interior Secretary Manual Lujan.

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