BANGKOK, November 2, 2015 - Employees at two southern Chinese airports are now better equipped to fight wildlife trafficking after participating in awareness workshops aimed at stopping the illicit trade of animals and their products.
The illegal trade in wildlife, estimated worldwide at $20 billion, not only funds organized crime but is rapidly decimating wildlife populations around the globe. China, and other Asian countries, are home to sophisticated and far-reaching organized criminal networks that traffic tons of wildlife every year to meet the increasing domestic and international demand for exotic food, medicine and products made from wildlife. China has long been considered one of the leading destinations for products such as ivory and rhino horns, originating in places such as Africa and transported to the area using airlines. The issue has also been further exacerbated with the increase in air travel, which has doubled in recent years.
On October 26, 27 and 29, the three Wildlife Friendly Skies workshops ware carried out as part the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supported Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) program. Freeland, an international NGO that protects civil society and the environment from organized crime and corruption, conducted the workshops at Guangzhou’s main international airport, the Guangzhou Customs Training Center and also at Nanning’s international airport. With direct flights to wildlife trafficking hotspots in both Africa and Southeast Asia, the two Southern-Chinese airports are seen as central to wildlife smuggling on board aircraft.
Wildlife and training experts together with local law enforcement agencies presented real case studies to illustrate the scale and seriousness of wildlife smuggling. Trainers also provided tips on how to identify wildlife species and products, how to profile traffickers and examples of smuggling methods.
This is the first time the Wildlife Friendly Skies workshop has taken place in China. The more than 150 participants included airline employees, ground services, cargo handlingstaff, customs officers, logistics companies, quarantine services and other departments relating to the inspection and detection of wild animals.
The USAID-funded ARREST program, in conjunction with local governments, law enforcement agencies and private sector partners, has trained more than 500 airline and airport staff on measures to detect wildlife trafficking in the last six months alone in such countries as Kenya and Vietnam and will continue to expand the Wildlife Friendly program. Now in its fourth year, the ARREST program is the U.S. Government’s largest counter wildlife trafficking initiative in Southeast Asia working to stop wildlife crime.
Note to Editor
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient societies to realize their potential. Following 50 years of improving lives through development and humanitarian assistance, USAID is the principal U.S. Government development agency partnering with countries throughout the world to promote peace, prosperity and security. Please visit www.usaid.gov or follow www.facebook.com/USAIDAsia for more information.
Freeland is a frontline counter-trafficking organization working for a world that is free of wildlife trafficking and human slavery. Our team of law enforcement, development and communications specialists work alongside partners in Asia, Africa and the Americas to build capacity, raise awareness, strengthen networks and promote good governance to protect critical ecosystems and vulnerable people. Freeland is also the lead implementing partner of "ARREST" (Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking), the U.S. Government’s largest counter-wildlife trafficking program, which is sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). For more info, visit www.freeland.org also; follow Freeland on twitter @FREELANDpeople or facebook.com/freelandfoundation