“Qatar Airways has a zero tolerance policy towards illegal trade of endangered wildlife”, said the airline’s boss as he unveiled a new staff training programme against animal trafficking.

The new program was revealed by Qatar Airways’ Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr Akbar Al Baker, after Turkish Airlines was accused of enabling the illegal transportation of the highly protected African Grey Parrot through poor staff training.

Al Baker said the airline is committed to stopping the transportation of these vulnerable creatures and believes the program to be a strong tool in combating the illegal activity.

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His Excellency Mr Akbar Al Baker said the airline has zero-tolerance towards wildlife trafficking.

“Qatar Airways has a zero-tolerance policy towards the illegal trade of endangered wildlife, and is actively engaged in stopping illegal wildlife transportation in its tracks.”

His Excellency Mr Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive

The new e-learning package is targeted towards staff in roles which are most likely to encounter illegal practices, such as customs and security staff at Hamad International Airport.

Employees will be educated on the effects of wildlife crime, common routes and methods used to smuggle wildlife. They’ll also learn how to report and respond to illegal transportation.

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Qatar Airways was among the first airlines to rise up against global wildlife crime in March 2016, with the signing of the United for Wildlife Transport Industry Declaration at Buckingham Palace. Since the carrier implemented initiatives to raise employee and passenger awareness of the situation and improve detection of the activity.

World Animal Protection’s Global Head of Exotic Pets, Cassandra Koenen, welcomed Qatar Airways’ initiative, saying that it’s a positive step although there’s still “a long way to go, to end the suffering of hundreds of thousands of wild animals who are being used as pets”.

“Global, influential companies like Qatar Airways have an important role to play in stopping the illegal transportation of wild animals captured for the exotic pet trade.”

Cassandra Koenen, World Animal Protection Global Head of Exotic Pets

Illegal trade in wild animals and animal products is worth an estimated US$23 billion per year and is one of the largest threats to the survival of some of the world’s most endangered species.

Among the species suffering at the hands of illegal trafficking is the African Grey Parrot, which received the highest level of protection from the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in October 2016 after an estimated two-to-three million were poached over 40 years.

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Image: Hannah Dickens/Unsplash

Turkish Airlines was exposed for enabling the transportation of the African Grey Parrot earlier this month when an investigation by World Animal Protection found a lack of awareness among staff resulted in the seizure of 340 birds in January 2018, half of which has died before being released into the wild, and 60 found dead on arrival from Kinshasa to Kuwait in August 2018.

The European carrier has since placed a travel embargo on the protected African Grey Parrot and is working with World Animal Protection to better train staff.

 

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