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WASHINGTON, DC: August 07, 2018. A new analysis of global wildlife trafficking says traffickers are highly dependent on commercial air transport to smuggle endangered animals.

The report In Plane Sight says wildlife traffickers moving ivory, rhino horn, reptiles, birds, pangolins, marine products, and mammals - accounting for 81 percent of the smuggling total - rely on large hub airports worldwide.

Wildlife traffickingBetween 2009 and 2017 China was the No.1 destination for ivory, rhino horn and pangolin trafficked from Africa to Asia via hubs in the Middle East and Europe.

The illegal wildlife trade is the fourth largest black market in the world and estimated to be worth US$20 billion a year covering more than 7,000 species of animals and plants.

The report, produced by C4ADS as part of the USAID Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Partnership, has analysed global airport seizures of illegal wildlife and wildlife products in more than 130 countries. One example of new data from 2017 shows a 300 percent rise in rhino horns seizures compared to 2016.

In Plane Sight outlines a dozen recommendations based on seizure data to prevent wildlife trafficking through airports including building awareness among personnel and passengers, training air industry staff, strengthening corporate policies and seizure protocols, and sharing seizure information.

“Many airlines recognize the need to combat wildlife trafficking and are stepping up as leaders in this global effort,” said IATA assistant director of Environment Jon Godson. “Airline staff spend more time with passengers and baggage than Customs authorities and can provide a key source of intelligence for enforcement agencies,” he added.

To help detect and report smugglers carrying wildlife and wildlife products through Turkey, the ROUTES Partnership has worked with Turkish Airlines to install a permanent ‘Counter Wildlife Trafficking’ awareness exhibit and to deliver a training workshop for air transport staff on the key role they can play in preventing trafficking.

In addition to the workshop, a permanent wildlife trafficking awareness installation has been set up at the Turkish Aviation Academy. The stand features a life-size mannequin, nicknamed ‘Smuggler Sam’ whose customised clothing, luggage, hidden strapping, compartments and pockets demonstrate 10 ways air passengers attempt to conceal trafficked wildlife.

The ROUTES Partnership includes the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), Freeland, IATA, TRAFFIC and WWF. The Partnership is funded by USAID and coordinated by TRAFFIC. The report In Plane Sight can be downloaded here: https://c4ads.org/reports/

 

 

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