Wildlife trafficking is the illegal trade of protected specimens of wild animals and plants, either threatened with extinction or not threatened, but controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) defines the protected specimens submitting their international trade to certain controls.
This illegal wildlife trade is diverse, including live animals, plants, and several different wildlife products derived from them (food products, exotic leather goods, wooden musical instruments, timber, tourist curios and medicines). Many wildlife species in trade are not endangered. However, the existence of an agreement to ensure the sustainability of the trade is important, in order to safeguard them for the future.
Wildlife trafficking has been using aviation global network to perform its illegal activities, causing serious environmental damage and similar effects as other international crimes, including promoting instability, financing organized crime and adversely affecting communities that live from wildlife tourism. In spite of the international (and national) legal frameworks, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), illegal wildlife trade is the fourth most lucrative global crime valued up to US$20 billion a year.
The aviation community must be united to address this problem. Current global efforts to raise awareness and combine efforts include the first UN General Assembly Resolution on the subject, the “Reducing opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) partnership, and the United for Wildlife Task Force Declaration, signed at the Buckingham Palace in 2016 by 40 parties, including ACI. ACI is committed to developing a framework to fight wildlife trafficking and adopting and encouraging the adoption of a zero-tolerance policy regarding illegal wildlife trade.
The ACI Wildlife Trafficking Task Force discusses emerging wildlife conservation issues and develops an appropriate response. The Task Force holds regularly calls and is open to all ACI member airports who can request information by email.
ACI Wildlife Trafficking Prevention Virtual APEX Assessment Program
This program is designed to assist airports in aligning and enhance their practices to continuously improve as an engaged member of the community and value chain in their ability to support the Buckingham Palace Declaration commitments and the global Wildlife Trafficking Prevention agenda endorsed by ACI, ROUTES and United for Wildlife.
The following resources are provided to aid ACI members and the broader aviation community with various tools that have been developed by international organizations government agencies to increase awareness.
ROUTES Partnership: Wildlife Trafficking Awareness Training Video (6 mins)
ROUTES Partnership: Wildlife Trafficking Awareness Training Video (12 mins)
United for Wildlife: The illegal wildlife trade
How aviation staff can help stop the illegal wildlife trade