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IATA Environmental Policy: Combating the illegal trade of wildlife

Transnational criminal gangs are exploiting the increasingly interconnected air transport system to traffic illegal flora and fauna. Aviation is committed to playing its part in stopping this illegal trade in wildlife, worth at least $19 billion annually. Although the duty for capturing and prosecuting these criminals rests with national enforcement authorities, airline staff can provide an important source of additional intelligence. International Air Transport Association (IATA) is working with the aviation industry to support the work of enforcement agencies in combating the illegal trade in wildlife.​​​​

In September 2016 TRAFFIC (the wildlife trade monitoring network, is the leading non-governmental organisation working globally on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development) and the Freeland Foundation (a frontline counter-trafficking organisation working for a world that is free of wildlife trafficking and human slavery) with support from the IATA under the Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Partnership, highlighted the growing commitment by the transport sector to take action on illegal wildlife trafficking. Two concurrent trainings were conducted with airline and airport personnel to highlight the abuse of the transport sector by wildlife traffickers. 

In February 2016 in coordination with the Freeland Foundation, IATA participated in a Wildlife Friendly Skies Workshop in Bangkok with 250 participants (airline, airport and customs staff). 
Read the full article here. 

Fighting the illegal wildlife trade

An industry approach that supports the work of enforcement agencies is the best way to combat the illegal trade in wildlife. Aviation is committed to playing its part in stopping the trade in illegal wildlife, estimated to be worth up to $10 billion annually. Transnational criminal gangs are exploiting the increasingly interconnected air transport system to traffic these types of products. Although the duty for capturing and prosecuting these criminals rests with national enforcement authorities, airline staff can provide an important source of additional intelligence.  

Individual airlines like Cathay Pacific and Etihad Airways have teamed with specialist conservation organizations to train frontline airline staff in identifying and reporting suspicious passengers, baggage, and cargo. Kenya Airways is taking part in the “Wildlife Friendly Skies” program, together with Freeland, a counter-trafficking organization.

Others have developed awareness programs through the videos shown on the inflight entertainment systems, magazine articles, and posters warning passengers of the dangers of buying and carrying illegal wildlife. But, as the traffickers know, individual airline actions can be by-passed by seeking alternative airlines, routes or transport modes. A multi-stakeholder approach is needed to combat this illegal trade on a global scale. 
Read the full article here. 

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Above: Black rhinoceros mother and calf in the Etosha National Park.. Photographer: By Yathin S Krishnappa (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.