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Combatting Illegal Trade in Wildlife

Transnational criminal gangs are exploiting the increasingly interconnected air transport system to traffic illegal flora and fauna. Aviation is committed to playing its part in stopping this illegal trade in wildlife, worth at least $19 billion annually. 

Although the duty for capturing and prosecuting these criminals rests with national enforcement authorities, airline staff can provide an important source of additional intelligence. 

IATA is working with the aviation industry to support the work of enforcement agencies in combating the illegal trade in wildlife.​​​​

Prince William, Lord Hague and Sir Tim Clarke on the United for Wildlife Taskforce


Top news on awareness training for airline staff

  • IATA has launched a video for aviation staff, supported by the USAID ROUTES Partnership, highlighting the important role front-line workers in the industry can play to catch wildlife traffickers.

Other news
In September 2016 TRAFFIC and Freeland with support from the IATA under the ROUTES Partnership, highlighted the growing commitment by the transport sector to take action on illegal wildlife trafficking. Two concurrent trainings were conducted with airline and airport personnel to highlight the abuse of the transport sector by wildlife traffickers. Read press release.

In February 2016 in coordination with the Freeland, IATA participated in a Wildlife Friendly Skies Workshop in Bangkok with 250 participants (airline, airport and customs staff).  

The United for Wildlife Transport TaskForce working with the aviation industry    


From airlines to shipping lines – the Taskforce aims to jointly examine the role of the transport industry in the illegal wildlife trade and aims to identify ways the sector can break the chain between suppliers and consumers.

At our recent Annual General Meeting in Dublin, IATA unanimously endorsed a resolution denouncing the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products and pledging to partner with government authorities and conservation organizations in the fight against the traffickers of protected species. In a recorded message to the AGM delegates, His Royal Highness Prince William the Duke of Cambridge urged the industry to unite in support of this cause.

In March 2016, IATA was among the signatories to the UFW Transport Taskforce Buckingham Palace Declaration which aims at reducing the illegal trade of wildlife.  A total of 27 airlines have also signed up to this Declaration as well as a number of other aviation stakeholders thus underlining the aviation industry’s commitment to sustainability.

MoU with CITES

In June 2015, IATA signed a Memorandum of Understanding  with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to cooperate on reducing illegal trade in wildlife and their products, as well as on ensuring the safe and secure transport of legally traded wildlife.

Partnering with USAID

  • IATA has agreed to be a core member of USAID ROUTES program. Work has begun by the core members on activities and program mechanics. The Routes program focuses on supporting anti-wildlife trafficking activities in the transport and logistics sector. ​
  • Read more about how the ROUTES partnership is working to create industry solutions which will help defeat wildlife trafficking.


  • ENCOM is IATA’s environmental governance body and comprises 20 airline representatives. 
  • ENCOM has formed the IATA Wildlife Task Force (IWTF) that is responsible for identifying and reviewing emerging wildlife conservation issues within the industry, and the development of appropriate responses
  • An update on wildlife activities was provided at the latest ENCOM meeting in Madrid in September 2016 and included a briefing on United for Wildlife (UFW) Transport Task Force and the USAID Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Program.  

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