Transport sector pledges to end illegal wildlife trafficking

United for Wildlife signatories pose for a photograph at Buckingham Palace. (Buckingham Palace)
United for Wildlife signatories pose for a photograph at Buckingham Palace. (Buckingham Palace)

Representatives from the 40 companies and industry bodies are the founding signatories of the Declaration of the United for Wildlife International Taskforce on the Transportation of Illegal Wildlife Products, which was signed at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday (London time).

United for Wildlife is a coalition of conservation groups Conservation International (CI), Fauna & Flora International (FFI), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), WWF-UK, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) as well as The Royal Foundation of the The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

The declaration comprised 11 commitments covering information sharing, staff training, technological improvements, and resource sharing to improve standards across the transportation industry, with the aim of preventing traffickers from getting the killed wildlife to prospective buyers.

The executive manager of Qantas Freight and Qantas Catering Group Alison Webster said the declaration was another significant step towards ending the trade in illegal wildlife transportation.

“We’re extremely proud to be part of this important declaration. It shows the difference that airlines can make when we work together with organisations like United for Wildlife,” Webster said in a statement.

“The declaration reinforces the policies and procedures we already have in place, and commits us to continue raising awareness of the impact of trophy hunting and taking action to stop it.”

Qantas said it followed Australian and international regulations on transport and trade of animals and animal products, including the Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES).

It did not carry threatened animals banned under CITIES, exotic animal hunting trophies such as lions, elephants, rhino and tigers, or shark fin products.

The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, is the president of United for Wildlife. He thanked the 40 companies for their commitment tackling the poaching crisis in the world.

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge speaking at the United for Wildlife signing ceremony at Buckingham Palace. (Buckingham Palace)
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge speaking at the United for Wildlife signing ceremony at Buckingham Palace. (Buckingham Palace)

“If we allow current trends to continue, there will be no African elephants or rhinos left in the wild by the time my daughter Charlotte reaches her 25th birthday,” Prince William said in a statement.

“The poaching crisis is bringing violence, death, and corruption to many vulnerable communities. It threatens to rob future generations of their livelihoods in those regions where wildlife tourism is the core of local economies.”

“With the Buckingham Palace Declaration being signed today, global transport leaders are saying we know many of the ways wildlife products are being moved from killing field to market place.”

“By implementing these commitments the signatories can secure a game changer in the race against extinction.”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is also a signatory to the declaration and its chief executive Tony Tyler said the aviation sector could help stop the illegal trafficking by sharing intelligence with enforcement authorities about suspicious packages.

“I can think of few other causes that galvanize more interest and support across the global transport and logistics sectors than the challenge of wildlife trafficking,” Tyler said in a statement.

“Today marks a step forward for environmental protection — a commitment that we take very seriously. We will collaborate in support of government enforcement authorities to put an end to this evil trade.”

Etihad Airways is also a signatory to the declaration. The airline’s chief executive said: “We recognise the significant role that the airlines can play in preventing the smuggling of wildlife and products. Whilst the airlines cannot act as regulators, we are able to support enforcement authorities and assist in raising passenger awareness. We encourage others in this sector to sign up to this declaration to help prevent this abhorrent practice.”