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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A wildlife charity set up a fake online ivory shop in Singapore, attracting widespread condemnation, in a stunt to underline local laws which it says continue to facilitate illicit ivory trade globally.

A week after the launch of Ivory Lane, which purported to sell vintage ivory jewellery items through an online store and social media accounts, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on Tuesday unveiled it was behind the stunt.

WWF said the campaign "sparked a heated debate on wildlife trade, national legislation and enforcement in Singapore" garnering 65,000 reactions on social media.

Singapore banned the commercial import and export of ivory in 1990, although ivory that entered the market before 1990 is still permitted for sale in the city-state. WWF says this continues to facilitate illicit ivory trade globally as recently poached ivory could masquerade as vintage ivory.

Singapore's minister of state for national development said in March that the government is studying the implementation of a ban on the domestic sale of ivory. Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore did not immediately have comment.

WWF's investigations found more than 40 shops in Singapore selling ivory products and numerous online listings on popular e-commerce and classified platforms. In physical shops, WWF investigators said traders explained how to smuggle ivory across borders undetected which they said showed how easily the loopholes in the law can be misused.

Singapore, a global trading hub, has made large scale-seizures of ivory in recent years and conservation groups say it acts as a transit hub for the illegal wildlife trade.

(Reporting by John Geddie; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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Reuters