Airlines: key in the fight to stop wildlife trafficking

Evangelina del Toro

Airlines worldwide play an important role in curbing wildlife trafficking, so their participation in this fight is key, said Renata Cao, coordinator of the wildlife crime initiative of the World Wildlife Fund

“It is key to be able to work with airports and with airlines, as well as maritime transport and logistics companies (…) in some ways, they serve as a bottleneck and offer an opportunity to generate alliances to detect these cases and stop them at this point of the trafficking chain, she stated.

During her participation in the Green Aviation 2021 webinar, organized by the National Air Transport Chamber (Canaero) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) , she specified that in Latin America traffickers use air transport due to its speed and the need for shorter time in transit for the live animal.

“It is convenient and practical. There are a number of routes that connect several of the main destinations of both origin and market of these products. The probability of being detected is low because passengers hide the animals in their suitcase, or the animal’s products and derivatives, and pass the security filters as would anyone who is traveling to a destination to vacation,” she said.

She commented that this phenomenon has increased due to the fact that certain airports do not have the necessary technology to detect this type of cargo, as well as lacking the knowledge about national and international laws for the purchase and transport of wildlife.

For this reason, the Routes Alliance has been created, which aims to interrupt traffic by reducing the use of supply chains such as air, they also generate information on the routes that are most used for this crime, training of people, creation of policies , among other.

Adriana Prieto, Aeroméxico sustainable development manager, specified that the airline signed the Buckingham Palace Declaration in 2016, a commitment to detect and prevent this crime where there is zero tolerance, among other measures.

“Preventing and taking action on [this type of crime] adds to our sustainability strategy, which has gained a lot of strength during the last 3 years. […] Preventing this crime adds to our objectives and also seeks to replicate what we did in human trafficking, ”he said.

For this reason, they will carry out the reinforcement of certain actions together with the WWF; she also said that they are in favor of alliances with other companies, airlines and hotels to detect this type of crime.

Mexico leads the 7 main countries where there is a greater illegal traffic of wildlife in Latin America; in second place is Brazil, the United States – although it is not located in the region if it is a very important country for transit and for where it connects to Europe and Asia- followed by Colombia, Peru, Canada and Guyana.

Source: WWF

The illegal wildlife trade has a value of around 350,000 million dollars annually, making it the fourth largest illegal market in the world. […] In Latin America the trend is in the trafficking of live species for internal and intraregional trade, but also at the international level.

Renata Cao recalled that recently a shipment of 3 tons of confiscated shark fins was detected in Hong Kong from Mexico , “it is seen that there is a greater trend towards international trade driven by the demand of the Asian market, mainly of China.”

In addition, there was a detection of 15,000 turtles at the Mexico City International Airport (AICM) last year; a similar case was registered at the Galapagos Airport, with 15 endangered turtles.

Read the original coverage from T21 (Mexico) at

Informing and sharing news on marine life, flora, fauna and conservation in the Galápagos Islands since 2017
© SOS Galápagos, 2021

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