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DOHA: February 26, 2019. Qatar Airways has launched an e-learning programme for airline staff most likely to encounter illegal wildlife trafficking.

The training aims to educate airline employees, security and Customs staff at Hamad International Airport (HIA) with the effects of wildlife crime, the common routes and methods used to smuggle wildlife, and how to report and respond to illegal activity.

Illegal trade in wild animals and animal products is worth an estimated US$23 billion a year and is one of the largest threats to the survival of some of the world’s most endangered species.

Tanzania elephantIn 2017 Qatar Airways joined the USAID ROUTES Partnership comprised of private sector representatives, NGOs and government agencies working together to combat wildlife crime across transportation networks. The airline says it has been instrumental in the development of the training and awareness campaign.

“The launch of this new training programme marks a significant milestone in our strategic approach to preventing wildlife crime across our network,” explained Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker. [The airline] has a zero-tolerance policy towards the illegal trade of endangered wildlife, and is actively engaged in stopping illegal wildlife transportation in its tracks. We remain committed to providing our staff with the tools they need to combat this illegal activity.”

On February 19, 2019 a court in Tanzania sentenced Chinese national Yang Fenglan to 15 years in prison for trafficking 860 ivory tusks weighing almost 1.9 tonnes over a 14-year period.

Fenglan was dubbed the ‘ivory queen’ for her role in smuggling ivory out of Tanzania to international buyers and consumers in Asia. She had links with notorious elephant poacher Boniface Matthew Mariango who was arrested in 2015 after a year-long manhunt and sentenced to 12 years in prison in March 2017.

Between 2009 and 2014 Tanzania lost 60 percent of its elephants with numbers collapsing from 109,000 to 43,000. The Selous Game Reserve, a World Heritage site, has lost almost 90 percent of its elephants over the last 40 years with only 15,217 estimated to be alive at the end of 2014.

In January last year, China officially closed its domestic ivory market, a move that is augmenting Tanzania’s efforts to end the poaching crisis. According to WWF Practice Leader Dr. Margaret Kinnaird, the organisation is working in partnership with governments, international law enforcement agencies, businesses, other conservation NGOs and international organizations in order to drive change at the scale needed to stamp out the illegal trade in ivory.

Pictured: elephant in Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania.

 

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