10 Sep 2015 04:00
Etihad Airways and the Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) this week hosted two days of workshops about the growing threat of illegal wildlife smuggling.
The workshops, focused on potential trafficking through the airport
environment, were attended by representatives from the airline, the Abu Dhabi
Airports Company, and the General Administration of Customs.
Etihad Airways and MOEW also collaborated
with other major stakeholders including TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring
network; Environment Agency
Abu Dhabi; Emirates Wildlife
Society – WWF (EWS-WWF), and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, all of
which have extensive knowledge of international and regional wildlife
The workshops took place at a time when the demand for protected animals and their products
continues to increase. A key aim of the two day event was also to
improve each organisation’s knowledge of the Convention on International Trade
of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) of which the UAE has been a signatory since 1990.
Richard Hill, Chief Operations Officer of Etihad Airways, said “We are committed to the welfare and
protection of animals. Illegal trafficking is a growing problem, which not only
threatens endangered species but is a potential risk to passengers and airport
employees. Collaboration in this area is essential in ensuring we can continue
to curtail this illegal trade.”
MOEW, TRAFFIC (with
funding from the United States Agency for International Development – USAID), EWS-WWF, IFAW, and the Environment
Agency Abu Dhabi all provided a
comprehensive introduction to CITES as well as guidance on CITES permits to
help identify forgeries and ensure authenticity. Practical sessions were
provided to help in species identification.
H.E. Eng. Mariam Mohammed Saeed Hareb, Acting Assistant Undersecretary
of Water Resources and Nature Conservation Affairs, MOEW said: “The workshops
reflects the UAE’s efforts in enhancing the effectiveness of international
policies and legislation and their implementation, as we work to combat illegal
trade in wildlife, in particular the species that are listed under CITES.
aligns with the UAE’s
Vision and National Biodiversity Strategy, which aims to develop and implement
programs to improve the conservation status of the most threatened species.”
The workshop attendees were given an insight into international methods
that are used for smuggling.
Tom Milliken, the Elephant and Rhino Programme Co-ordinator for TRAFFIC
said: “Traffickers are highly organised, coming up with ever more elaborate
means to forge documents or conceal animals or animal products. It is important
for enforcement agencies to increase their knowledge and capacity to detect and
deter wildlife crime.”
Ida Tillisch, Director General, EWS-WWF said: “We are pleased with the efforts of Etihad Airways and other airport
stakeholders in recognising this critical threat to wildlife, and taking much
needed action towards the prevention of illegal wildlife trade.”
Etihad Airways has a clear policy in place to support animal protection,
including strict compliance with all regulations for the carriage of live
Etihad Airways does not accept the
carriage of live animals intended for use in scientific research and the airline banned the carriage of shark fins in 2011.
In 2015 it announced that it will no longer accept the carriage of hunting
trophies using animal products on its flights.