Airline Industry Joins Wildlife Protection Program

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Together with Royal Thai Customs, Airports of Thailand (AOT), Kenya Airlines and Delta Airlines, Freeland, a Bangkok-based counter-trafficking organization, launched the Wildlife Friendly Skies training as part of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking Program. The training held on February 20 and 21 included flight attendants, cargo and baggage handlers, airport security and Customs officials at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. The 56 participants, including 23 female, learned how today’s traffickers are attempting to circumvent inspectors and laws to smuggle rare and endangered wildlife through Suvarnabhumi Airport, a hotspot for wildlife trafficking and one of the world’s busiest airports serving more than 50 million passengers per year. The course focused on Suvarnabhumi Airport’s links to wildlife source, transit and consumer countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. Law enforcement and wildlife experts from Freeland showcased real incidents to illustrate the scale and seriousness of wildlife smuggling.  Trainers also provided tips on how to detect and respond to wildlife trafficking. WildScan, a new smartphone application developed with USAID funding by Freeland for identifying endangered species and wildlife crime was also introduced. Course organizers aired public service announcements featuring local key opinion leaders, as well as the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand that have been developed for television, airports and airlines. The new airline partnership was brokered jointly with the U.S. Embassy Bangkok, and highlights the importance of public and private sector collaboration to combat illicit trade. Freeland will continue to expand the Wildlife Friendly Skies Program, tailoring the course to specific airports and airline routes to ensure relevant staff are equipped to help end wildlife trafficking.

 

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