LAM Mozambique and Kenya Airways host wildlife trafficking workshops for airline and airport staff
Tue 13 Mar 2018 – Two workshops have been held in Maputo and Nairobi to train airline and airport staff on how they can help detect and stop illegal trafficking in wildlife products, such as ivory and rhino horn. Hosted by LAM Mozambique Airlines and Kenya Airways, the workshops were organised by ROUTES, a public-private partnership supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The partnership brings together government agencies; international conservation, development and law enforcement organisations; and the transportation and logistics industry, including IATA. A report published by ROUTES last year estimated the illegal trade was worth over $20 billion worldwide and identified Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International as an important hub for trafficking. Over the next few months, ROUTES will be holding workshops in other trafficking hotspots Uganda, Malawi, Ethiopia and Malaysia.
“Wildlife trafficking is a transportation-intensive activity and smugglers carrying illegal wildlife and wildlife products need to interact with airport and airline staff at multiple points during the journey,” said ROUTES lead Michelle Owens. “Increasing the ability of staff to identify and report suspicious activities linked to wildlife trafficking is crucial for stopping traffickers that abuse the transport sector.”
The workshop in Nairobi involved cabin crew, ground handlers, cargo processors and staff from regional airports participating in the interactive sessions. Airline employees were taught how to recognise common wildlife trafficking techniques and were provided with information on how best to respond to and report wildlife trafficking incidents.
“Airline staff spend more time with passengers, their baggage and cargo shipments than customs officers,” noted Jon Godson, Assistant Director, Aviation Environment at IATA. “They can provide a key source of intelligence for the enforcement agencies.”
The event was attended by Margaret Kenyatta, First Lady of Kenya; Robert Godec, US Ambassador to Kenya; Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary, Tourism and Wildlife; and Chris Oburu, Chief Administrative Secretary Transport and Infrastructure Development.
“Wildlife trafficking is one of the most prominent transnational organised crimes in the world, ranking with drug, human and arms trafficking in annual value,” said the US ambassador. “Wildlife traffickers exploit global transportation, threaten human health and security, and are driving some species to extinction.”
In a keynote speech, Mrs Kenyatta said: “One of the greatest challenges that we face in wildlife conservation is the sophistication of systems and intelligence that is in the hands of wildlife syndicates around the world. These have impeded the gains we have made in breaking through this illegal industry. We can no longer consider traditional or conservative solutions, we must look at new ways in this new age of technology and innovation.
“We must accelerate our efforts and increase our investments, because our wildlife heritage and invaluable resource is under threat. We must build better and stronger networks that consider all possibilities and close out the loopholes that have allowed the growth of illegal trade.
“And so I applaud this initiative that stands out as an innovative measure that includes the global transportation systems to help break these illegal chains of unlawful transportation of endangered species.”
Meanwhile, Etihad marked World Wildlife Day on March 3 with a series of activities involving staff, cabin crews and air travellers at various locations, including Abu Dhabi International Airport, on its flights and at its Abu Dhabi headquarters. It also launched an electronic learning course for staff that explains how and why wildlife is smuggled, and how the airline industry can help prevent illegal trade. The aviation group is a signatory to the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce Declaration signed at Buckingham Palace in March 2016 (see article).
“Etihad Aviation Group is proud to be a leader in actively promoting the risks the world faces through the loss of many rare and endangered species,” commented Linden Coppell, Head of Sustainability. “The activities we hosted highlighted the dangers of habitat loss, climate change and wildlife crime, such as poaching and illegal trade.”
This new video produced by ROUTES for World Wildlife Day aims to highlight the air transport sector’s role in supporting big cat conservation: