Kenya Airways is teaming up with US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) in increasing its commitment as a signatory to the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce Buckingham Palace Declaration to protect endangered species from illegal trade and transportation.
On 12 August, World Elephant Day 2021, Kenya Airways declared why and how it continues to strive to secure their flights against the illegal wildlife trade and call upon others to step up to the challenge. Alongside ROUTES, Kenya Airways will help raise awareness and build capacity and strengthen solutions to help stop the trafficking of wildlife.
Through the partnership, the Kenyan national carrier has launched a video to create stakeholders’ awareness about protecting the nation’s national heritage, with the effort part of KQ’s sustainability strategy to contribute to Africa’s sustainable development through wildlife conservation.
Kenya Airways Chief Executive Officer, Allan Kilavuka said, “The demand for exotic ornaments, traditional medicines, pets, and fashion that sees wildlife poached for a profit is threatening Kenya’s sustainable source of tourism income. The country also acts as a significant transit point in illegal wildlife smuggling routes. Tackling the trafficking, therefore, provides hope in protecting elephants and economic gains made from tourism not only for Kenya but other nations across the continent as well.”
“A successful response to wildlife trafficking requires concerted efforts across a range of stakeholders throughout the transportation industry. We’re delighted to see Kenya Airways spreading this message proactively in their new video and encouraged by the steps they’re taking to help stop this trade,” said Crawford Allan, ROUTES lead.
Kenya’s economy is highly dependent on ecotourism, with wildlife lovers and adventurers travelling from across the globe for a sighting of a leopard lounging on a tree branch or elephants playing at the watering hole.
Airline operations can lend an important opportunity to detect and report wildlife trafficking attempts, as, much of Africa’s wildlife is threatened by the illegal wildlife trade. It is estimated that 55 African Elephants are poached every day.
As part of the campaign, KQ and ROUTES have produced an educative video responding to the ROUTES Partnership and United For Wildlife ‘Step Up to Stop Wildlife Trafficking Campaign’. The campaign encourages airports, airlines, and associations to boost their efforts to combat wildlife trafficking through various awareness-raising and staff training activities.
In 2016, Kenya Airways signed the Buckingham Palace Declaration, acting against wildlife trafficking through transport systems. Five years on, Kenya Airways continues to play an active role in addressing this problem. Awareness-raising workshops for airline and airport staff have also been previously held at international airports in Nairobi and Bangkok.
Recent history of Kenya’s elephant numbers provides hope. Since instigating a crackdown on poaching in the country, Kenya has seen its elephant population numbers double over the last 30 years – a promising encouragement for other countries where poaching remains a dire threat to elephants.
Wildlife traffickers regularly exploit the increasing connectivity of global transportation, threatening human health and security, creating risk throughout industry supply chains and pushing animal species into extinction.
The ROUTES Partnership supports the transport sector by providing targeted data analytics, empowering personnel with the necessary tools and information to be a part of the solution, raising awareness among clients and staff and ultimately embedding solutions within existing company policies that help stop the trafficking of wildlife.
By Victor Shalton Odhiambo