Amid the renewed fight to protect wildlife, a European carrier, Turkish Airlines, has expressed its commitment to tackling illegal wildlife trade with its resolve to increase its passenger, customer, client, and staff awareness about the consequences of illegal wildlife trade.
To strengthen the awareness, the airline says it is developing mechanisms that will enable the transport sector receive timely information about the transport of suspected illegal wildlife and their products, including methods of transportation, key routes, ports and other locations.
Such information, Turkish Airlines further revealed, will be made available to relevant customs and law enforcement authorities, where permitted by law; just as it plans to support the development of mechanisms by the World Customs Organisation and national customs authorities to aid the detection and prevention of trade in illegal wildlife and their products.
Mr. Bilal Eki, Turkish Airlines Deputy Chairman and CEO, disclosed this at the signing ceremony of the United for Wildlife Buckingham Palace Declaration (UFW), where parties in attendance pledged zero-tolerance regarding the illegal wildlife trade.
“With this declaration, we as Turkish Airlines are not only underlining one of the most important environmental issues of our times, that is, trafficking of wildlife, but we are also setting an example of responsibility. Today with this signature we hope that we are contributing to the level of awareness on the issue and smoothing the path for legal enforcement procedures against the traffickers,” he said.
Eksi noted that governments alone could not curb this phenomenon, and, therefore, called on international organisations, more importantly airlines, who are key players in the international wildlife trade, to play a more important role in preserving the wildlife diversity in global economy.
Wildlife is a very important component of the ecosystem and it is expedient to stop its illegal trade in order to conserve wildlife for posterity and ecological balance. It is important to note that different species in nature are connected through various food webs, and the disappearance of one species could affect several others down the line.
The need for innovative solutions and improved data to facilitate interventions to stop illegal wildlife trade has been noted by the United Nations and USAID-supported Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge. Organisations with the power and influence to effect change should take it upon themselves to champion this initiative helping to secure a safer future for not only the human species but also to wildlife, including plants.