LONDON, UK, March 15, 2016 (ENS) – Leaders of the global transportation industry today signed a new declaration pledging to fight wildlife trafficking by disrupting the transport routes being exploited by organized criminals to carry poached wildlife.
During an event at Buckingham Palace, 40 CEOs and other senior officials of airlines, shipping firms, port operators, Customs agencies, intergovernmental organizations and conservation charities became the founding signatories of the Declaration of the United for Wildlife International Taskforce on the Transportation of Illegal Wildlife Products.
They pledged improvements in information sharing, staff training, technology and resource sharing across companies and organizations worldwide.
The Buckingham Palace Declaration is the result of a year’s worth of meetings, research, and coalition building by the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, convened by Prince William-Duke Of Cambridge, and chaired at his request by Lord Hague of Richmond.
Prince William convened a unique coalition of industry, conservation groups and intergovernmental bodies based in Australia, China, Denmark, Germany, Kenya, Japan, Liberia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“The poaching crisis is bringing violence, death, and corruption to many vulnerable communities. It threatens to rob future generations of their livelihoods in those regions where wildlife tourism is the core of local economies,” said Prince William.
“But this crisis can be stopped,” he said. “We know where the animals are that we need to protect. We know where the markets for wildlife products are and where awareness, education, and law enforcement need to be improved. And with the Buckingham Palace Declaration being signed today, global transport leaders are saying we know many of the ways wildlife products are being moved from killing field to marketplace.”
“By implementing these commitments the signatories can secure a game changer in the race against extinction,” said Prince William. “I thank them for their commitment and I invite any other company in the industry to sign up to the Buckingham Palace Declaration and play their part in the fight against the poaching crisis.”
One of the founding signatories is the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN. With its finger on the pulse of poaching worldwide, the IUCN issued a new report March 9 showing that the number of African rhinos killed by poachers for their horns has increased for the sixth year in a row with at least 1,338 rhinos killed by poachers across Africa in 2015.
This is the highest level since the current crisis emerged in 2008. Since then poachers have killed at least 5,940 African rhinos.
Signatories to the Buckingham Palace Declaration pledged to take 11 actions intended to raise standards across the transportation industry to prevent traffickers from exploiting weaknesses as they seek to move material such as rhino horns covertly from killing field to marketplace.
• Develop information sharing systems for the transport industry to receive credible information about high risk routes and methods of transportation
• Support a secure system for passing information about suspected illegal wildlife trade from the transport sector to customs and law enforcement authorities
• Notify law enforcement authorities of cargoes suspected of containing illegal wildlife and their products and, where able to do so, they will refuse to accept or ship such cargoes.
The world’s leading transportation firms pledged to assist those in poorer nations who are in need of expertise and new systems.
Dr. Susan Lieberman, Wildlife Conservation Society vice president of international policy and a member of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, signed the Buckingham Palace Declaration today on behalf of the New York-based NGO that manages New York City’s five zoos and aquarium.
“The world is attuned to the fact that wildlife trafficking has become a global problem,” said Dr. Lieberman. “The agreement signed today will help industry take steps to remove the deficiencies in transportation and customs capability that are being exploited by criminal traffickers.”
“The United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce Buckingham Palace Declaration sends a clear message to wildlife criminals,” she said. “Do not enter – you will be stopped.”
The work of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce is supported not only by the transport sector but by intergovernmental agencies, including: the World Customs Organization, the United Nations Development Programme and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES, the world’s regulatory instrument on trade in endangered species.
CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon said today, “There are today over 1.1 billion international tourist arrivals a year, 100,000 flights every day, and 500 million containers shipped a year. Legitimate forms of transport are being exploited by transnational organized criminals to transport their contraband and the transport sector has a key role to play in curbing this illicit trade.”
“The illicit trafficking of wildlife is of an industrial scale, but in the context of the overall volumes of air and sea transport, we are often searching for a needle in a haystack, with only a tiny fraction of the overall cargo or passengers carrying illegally traded wildlife,” said Scanlon.
“Yet poached wildlife travels long distances across air, land or sea and goes through many hands on its way to illicit markets, meaning there are many points along the way where it can be disrupted,” he said. “The Duke’s transport task force has filled a gap in the global efforts to stop illicit wildlife trafficking.”
Today’s declaration builds on a newly formed effort known as ROUTES (Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species) http://www.traffic.org/routes. The partnership was established in October 2015, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and led by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network based in Cambridge, UK.
ROUTES has established collaboration across government agencies, transportation and logistics industry representatives, international conservation organizations and donors.
Steven Broad, executive director of TRAFFIC said today, “TRAFFIC is delighted to sign the Buckingham Palace Declaration, and we will live up to our commitments and engagement with the transport sector through the ROUTES Partnership: this is truly a worldwide, international response to the wildlife trafficking crisis.”
The founding signatories to the Buckingham Palace Declaration are:
African Airlines Association
Air China Cargo Co. Ltd.
Airports Council International
Baltic and International Maritime Council
China Post Group Corporation
China COSCO Shipping Co. Ltd.
Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
Cruise Lines International Association
Danish Shipowners Association
DHL UK & Ireland
Dubai Ports World
International Air Transport Association
International Airlines Group
International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners
International Chamber of Shipping
International Maritime Organization
Japanese Shipowners’ Association
Liberian Shipowners’ Council Ltd
South African Airways
Stena Line UK
Sustainable Shipping Initiative
UK Chamber of Shipping
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office
United Nations Development Programme – Global Environment Facility
Wildlife Conservation Society
World Customs Organisation
World Wildlife Fund, UK