Qatar Airways has extended its participation in the USAID ROUTES (Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species) partnership to combat illegal wildlife trafficking.
Qatar Airways, one of the world’s leading carriers and a founding member of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, signed the original Buckingham Palace Declaration on 2016, which aimed to shut down the routes exploited by the illegal wildlife trade and, in May 2017, went on to sign the first Memorandum of Understanding with the ROUTES Partnership. In May 2019, Qatar Airways became the world’s first airline to achieve certification to the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) Assessment which confirms that it has procedures, staff training and reporting protocols in place.
Qatar Airways Group chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, said: “The illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade threatens our global biodiversity, and poses a risk to health and safety, particularly in marginalised communities. We are taking measures to disrupt this illicit trade in order to conserve biodiversity and safeguard our delicate ecosystems. We remain committed with other aviation industry leaders to emphasise our zero-tolerance policy towards illegal trafficking of wildlife and its products, and we join the ROUTES Partnership in saying – ‘It Doesn’t Fly With Us’. We will continue to work with our stakeholders to raise awareness and improve detection of illegal wildlife activities to protect these creatures that we value.”
ROUTES Partnership lead Crawford Allan, added: “Through its actions on raising awareness, training and including wildlife trafficking within its policies, Qatar Airways has demonstrated its commitment to the Buckingham Palace Declaration and to the goal of the ROUTES Partnership. I am proud to see that Qatar Airways is continuing these efforts.”
Qatar Airways says that the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that wildlife crime is a threat not only to the environment and biodiversity, but also to human health. Despite restricted travel, reports of illegal wildlife seizures over the past year have revealed that traffickers are still taking their chances to smuggle contraband through the air transport system.
Qatar Airways has a zero-tolerance policy towards the transportation of illegal wildlife and their products. It also launched the second chapter of its sustainability programme WeQare: Rewild the Planet earlier this year, focused on transporting wild animals back to their natural habitat, free of charge.