SriLankan Airlines on Thursday 2nd June joined a landmark worldwide drive to crack down on the illegal global trade in wildlife that has brought many of the world’s rare species close to extinction.
SriLankan was among several international airlines which pledged their full support for the ʻUnited for Wildlifeʼ initiative, at the annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on 2nd June in Dublin, Ireland. The initiative by major organisations involved in conservation is being supported by the global transportation industry.
Captain Suren Ratwatte, CEO of SriLankan Airlines who signed on behalf of Sri Lanka’s National Carrier, said: “SriLankan Airlines has long been a pioneer of conservation within the global air transport industry, with ground-breaking initiatives such as our ‘Planet Friendly Flights’ as far back as 2009, and our own extensive conservation efforts are driven by our ‘Green Team’. We are delighted to join this valuable initiative which we have no doubt will significantly reduce trafficking in illegal species and animal products, and we hope this initiative will help to bring many species back from the verge of extinction.”
The initiative was created by the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry of the UK, bringing together seven of the world’s most influential wildlife protection organisations – Conservation International (CI), Fauna & Flora International (FFI), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), WWF-UK, and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), with The Royal Foundation.
IATA has been inspirational in gathering many aviation related organizations towards this global initiative, in a media release, IATA noted: “The interconnected air transport network is being exploited by criminal gangs to smuggle animals or their products from the killing field to the market place. The air transport industry can help stop this trade by providing additional intelligence to enforcement authorities about suspicious shipments.” IATA is the trade association of global airlines, Airports Council International the association of the world’s international airports, and the African Airlines Association.
Through this initiative, airlines have already begun cooperating more closely with global and national law enforcement authorities and international conservation organizations such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to share information and intelligence on the illegal trade, and also enhance airline staff training, technological improvements, and resource sharing.
An IATA Environment Committee Wildlife Taskforce has been set up to monitor progress of the initiative, and IATA has also joined a separate USAID Partnership on Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES). (Media Release)