Singapore listed as Africa’s top importer of reptile skin: Report

Singapore accounts for about 60% of the African reptile skin trade in Asia.
The New Paper

Singapore has emerged as Asia’s largest importer of reptile skins from Africa, according to a March 2018 report released wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic.

While 16 East and Southeast Asian countries or territories imported skins from Africa between 2006 and 2015, none could top Singapore which imported 933,583 reptile skins.

It led by a wide margin from the second largest importer Japan, which imported 261,282 reptile skins over the same period.

According to Traffic, the reptile skins were likely to have been imported to Singapore for the “purpose of tanning and re-exporting for the international leather trade”.

With a demand that surpasses the world’s largest importer, China, Singapore accounts for about 60% of approximately 1.55 million exported by Africa to Asia over that period.

The types of skin imported over include captive-bred Nile crocodile skin from top South Africa exporter Zimbabwe, as well as Nile monitor lizard skin from West African countries like Ghana and Mali.

Singapore is the sole importer of skins from Mozambique in the South, of which 7,050 out of 7,520 were ranched Nile crocodile skins.

Ranching and captivity-breeding are two of the methods recognised by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITIES) as acceptable breeding methods for specimens, according to a report published in 2017.

The high demand for reptile skin in Singapore can be attributed to country’s flourishing tannery industry, of which a prime example would be Hong Long International, one of the top five exotic skin tanneries around the world that has been regularly supplying crocodile leather to European fashion houses for decades, according to a 2014 New Paper report.

Singapore also brought in 98,788 birds from Central African countries, making it the biggest importer of live birds from that region.