As the world commemorates World Wildlife Day, South African Airways has thrown its weight behind initiatives to help intensify the fight against global illegal wildlife trafficking.
As a new member of the USAID Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES), the national carrier son Tuesday said it would work hard to reduce the trafficking seizure of 42% of wildlife animals checked in luggage, 4% hidden in passenger clothing, 23% in air flight, 4% in mail and 27% recorded as unknown.
SAA employees are being trained in methods to detect wildlife smugglers and their activities and to report these to the relevant authorities.
Africa A Hotbed for Smuggling
USAID ROUTES said Africa is a significant source of smuggled live animals and wildlife products.
For example, in 2019 more than 103 wildlife animals were seized in three countries across the African continent. Most commonly, air traffic of wildlife animals in the African skies involves:
- Ivory moved from East Africa, through the Middle East, into Asia;
- Rhino horn moved from Southern Africa, through East Africa and the Middle East, into Asia;
- Pangolin scales moved from West Africa, through Europe, into Asia;
- Tortoises moved from Madagascar, through East Africa, into Asia;
- Abalone moved from Southern Africa straight to Asia and
- Nile crocodiles moved from the Horn of Africa into the Middle East.
Now SAA said it was committed to taking action to protect wildlife and their natural heritage.
SAA has joined the fight against illegal wildlife trade by adopting the Illegal Wildlife Trade Module of the IATA Environmental Assessment (IEnvA) Programme. IEnvA is an equivalent of the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), but in terms of the environment rather than safety.
SAA is audited, much like IOSA, and certified as IEnvA compliant. The airline was recently successfully audited through the Illegal Wildlife Trade module of the IATA Environmental Assessment (IEnvA) Programme to ensure that the correct systems and procedures are in place.
In its effort to fight against illegal wild-life trade, SAA recently conducted an awareness campaign among its employees to demonstrate how a trained dog can reinforce detection efforts to combat wildlife trafficking in the air transport industry.