Global organisations step up fight against illegal wildlife trade


Carin Smith, Fin24/Africa Geographic

Date Published
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) have signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate in reducing illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products, as well as to ensure the safe and secure transport of legally traded wildlife.

Under this memorandum of understanding, IATA and CITES will have a formal framework for their ongoing cooperation on the implementation of standards and best practices such as the IATA Live Animals Regulations, the IATA Perishable Cargo Regulations, and the CITES guidelines for the non-air transport of live wild animals and plants.

They will also support joint training and communications activities.

CITES is a legally binding agreement with 181 States Parties, which sets the rules for international wildlife trade in more than 35,000 species of animals and plants.

At the IATA annual general meeting, delegates were told that in recent years there has been a surge in the illegal trade of wildlife and products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and rare timbers, with many smugglers abusing the complex international aviation system to evade customs and other enforcement agencies.

“The collaboration between CITES and IATA will help the industry to play a role in stopping the terrible scourge of illegal trade in wildlife that threatens some of the most precious animal and plant life on our planet,” said Chief Executive Officer of IATA, Tony Tyler.

John E Scanlon, secretary general of CITES, addressed the delegates: “We live in an interconnected world where the great benefits of global air transport are also being abused by criminals to transport illegally traded wildlife. IATA and its member airlines can play a critical role in assisting customs and other enforcement agencies by gathering valuable intelligence of suspicious activities and raising awareness among customers, passengers and staff of the devastating impacts of this illegal trade.”