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Kenya Airways launches campaign to curb illegal wildlife trade

28 August 2015, 18:17

Nairobi - Kenya Airways has partnered with International Air Transport Association (IATA), Kenya Wildlife Service and global conservation organization, Freeland, to curb smuggling of wildlife products through commercial airlines.

Kenya Airways CEO Mbuvi Ngunze said on Thursday a joint program dubbed "Wildlife Friendly Skies" will be implemented by the four organizations to improve the capacity of airlines'staff to detect and report movement of illegal wildlife products.

"Wildlife trafficking is a serious crime that not only robs our people of their heritage but also endangers our tourism revenues,"Ngunze told journalists in Nairobi.

The partnership comes amid escalating wildlife trafficking run by organised criminal syndicates who utilise commercial airlines to smuggle endangered species across countries and continents.

It also comes at a time when poaching and illegal trade of trophy has persisted on the global arena but more so in Kenya, where the population of elephants and rhinos is threatened.

Ngunze noted there has been a spike in smuggling of ivories and rhino horns through airports in Sub-Saharan Africa.

"In the last few years, poachers have threatened to finish our elephants and rhinos, but as a national carrier, we have rolled out initiatives to advance the anti-poaching agenda," he said.

He revealed Kenya Airways has partnered with local and international wildlife conservation lobby groups to re-energize the fight against poaching of big mammals.

"We note that as a result of globalization and the ease of long distance travel, wildlife traffickers are exploiting commercial airlines to smuggle illicit wildlife products,"he said.

Ngunze said the airline has also partnered with state agencies to intensify surveillance at ports of entry in order to curb smuggling of wildlife products.

"We have taken proactive steps to ensure we are compliant with both local and global standards for ferrying legal wildlife,"said Ngunze.

IATA CEO Tony Tyler said Kenyan airline staff will be sensitized on the emerging local and global trends in wildlife crime.

"Airline staff has a crucial role to play in the fight against trafficking of endangered wildlife and plants. We should provide them with tools to help halt destruction of our biological heritage," Tyler said.

The airline staff will benefit from a comprehensive training program to boost their capacity to detect and respond to illegal movement of wildlife products. The training will be facilitated by a distinguished team of local and international experts on wildlife crimes.

Illicit wildlife trade is estimated to generate 19 billion U.S. dollars a year globally, ranking fourth on the list of the most lucrative illegal activities, behind drugs, counterfeiting and human trafficking, according to Freeland.

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- Xinhua


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