Wildlife trafficking is still a huge problem, delegates at IATA’s World Cargo Symposium heard today in Abu Dhabi.
It is the fifth biggest illegal trade in the world worth about $20 billion and only behind narcotics, money laundering, weapons, and people trafficking.
Etihad Airways’ head of sustainability, Linden Coppell says she didn’t realise the scale of the problem until she began researching the illegal trade, which many shippers use air cargo for.
Coppell says rhinos, elephant, tigers and pangolins are the most trafficked and are rapidly declining due to poachers and she explains the violent side of the trade is especially troublesome.
She gave examples of wildlife shipments that Etihad has stopped, which have included 210 pieces of ivory concealed in metallic drums – weighing 500kg.
Others have included 174 radiated tortoise in Bangkok from Madagascar and another was 300kg of ivory from Lagos to Ho Cho Minh City.
Coppell says Etihad has had some successes and been able to stop future shipments from shippers, giving an example of ivory set to be moved from Lagos. After tracing the shipper the carrier noticed other shipments had the same description and it was able to cancel them being shipped.
Coppell says payloads of the illegal trade are mislabeled and transported with forged documents.
She urged more to be done to stop wildlife trafficking and the chair of IATA’s Wildlife Task Force says Etihad is continuing to raise awareness while it has signed up to the United for Wildlife Declaration and has run its own Etihad4 Wildlife Campaign, but she says more still needs to be done.