Kenya airways, one of Africa’s largest airlines and five celebrities from around the globe have joined forces with UN Environment on World Wildlife Day to help put an end to the illicit international trade in wildlife driving myriad species to the brink of extinction.
The illegal trade in wildlife is lining the pockets of criminal networks with an estimated $23 billion annually: putting the trade in the same league as the trafficking of drugs, arms and humans.
Kenya Airways, announced it is partnering with UN Environment to effectively cut off one of the main transport routes used by criminals to smuggle wildlife, dead or alive, from Africa to the Middle East and East Asia. The partnership comes in the wake of a poaching crisis across Africa that is wreaking havoc on creatures great and small, from elephants and rhinos to pangolins and African Gray Parrots.
” We are delighted to announce, on the occasion of World Wildlife Day, a partnership between Kenya Airways and UN Environment to help end the illegal trade in wildlife,” said head of UN Environment Erik Solheim.
“The engagement of private sector companies is critical to tackling wildlife crime. Airlines in particular connect a large global consumer base and unfortunately the illegal supply chain. They can act as a front-line agent for change. We applaud Kenya Airways for this initiative and are pleased to support their commitment to help end this scourge.”
Kenya Airways, which flies to 51 international destinations, has a zero-tolerance policy for illegal wildlife trade and works closely with governments and aid agencies, especially at its hub in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, to help ensure illegal wildlife products are not being transported on its aircrafts. The company now wants to scale up its efforts by working with UN Environment to provide regular messaging about wildlife crime prevention across its customer touch points, including in-flight entertainment and announcements, and staff trainings.
Kenya Airways Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr Mbuvi Ngunze, said that the partnership with UN Environment underlines the airline’s commitment to fighting illegal wildlife trade.
“The threat facing wildlife is serious, especially in Africa, where cases of wildlife poaching are rampant, largely driven by the demand for ivory and rhino horn, but impacting many species. We all have a responsibility to support the conservation of wildlife and it is imperative that everyone gets more involved in stopping the vice,” Mr Ngunze said.
Putting an end to the illegal trade in wildlife requires the commitment of everyone from governments to the private sector and dedication of those preventing poaching on the ground. But it critically requires educating and motivating ordinary citizens, who as consumers are responsible for driving the demand for wildlife and wildlife parts, to make choices that do not harm endangered species. From pangolin scales to hornbill casques to rhino horn, elephant ivory and live animals like apes and parrots, there are endless examples of purchasing decisions that are driving species toward extinction.
Helping to raise awareness and mobilize public action are four celebrities, who are joining UN Environment’s Wild for Life campaign today, each representing a different species threatened by illegal trade:
Mexican actor/director Gael García Bernal as the Jaguar; youth actor, Aidan Gallagher as the Hyacinth Macaw; Indonesian actor Hamish Daud as the Sun Bear; and American actor Adrian Grenier as the Sawfish. Chinese actress Li Bingbing returns to the campaign as a Tibetan Antelope.
Gael Garcia Bernal
It is unbelievable that there are people who hunt Jaguars for their fur or for “sports”. From poaching and the loss of habitat, the population of the Jaguar has declined alarmingly, making us both witnesses and accomplices of its extinction. I want to do everything in my power to stop this from happening and to guarantee the life of the Jaguar, as well as of the plants and animals that depend on the Jaguar´s survival. The Jaguar is a beautiful animal, free and indomitable, a spiritual symbol of the human being. I support the Wild for Life campaign to save the Jaguar and all other species in danger of extinction.
No fur scarf is worth killing for, but that is exactly what is happening when we drape a shatoosh shawl around our shoulders made from the fur of the Tibetan Antelope, or Chiru. Even though China has exerted great efforts to save endangered Tibetan antelopes by cracking down on the trade in shahtoosh wool, the illegal trade still runs rampant globally. No longer can our insatiable desire for fashion and status be an excuse for being uninformed and making bad decisions that threaten our precious species. Up to four Tibetan Antelopes are killed just to weave one scarf, and the demand is pushing them to extinction. Today, I am giving my name to change the game for Tibetan Antelopes. Please join me to ‘go wild for life’. Be the change that you wish to see in the world!
The largest parrot in the world is an endangered species called the Hyacinth Macaw. It lives in tropical jungles in South America and supports important forest ecosystems by dispersing seeds and nuts for other herbivores to eat. But this vibrant and intelligent bird needs our help! It is captured illegally for the pet trade and killed for its feathers, which is pushing it to extinction. For World Wildlife Day, which is about listening to young voices, I am giving my name to change the game for the Hyacinth Macaw. You can help me by going Wild for Life and raising your voice to educate more people about this issue!
The adorable sun bear, called beruang madu (honey bears) in Indonesia, desperately needs our help! The smallest bear in the world, named for the golden patch of fur on its chest that resembles the rising sun, lives only in south-east Asia, but habitat loss and poachers are threatening their survival. Criminals are killing these precious creatures to sell their bile for traditional medicine, in a very cruel extraction process, and snatching their cubs to be sold as pets. It is heartbreaking, but join me to do something about it. Today, I am giving my name to change the game for the sun bear. Use your own sphere of influence to encourage people to get better informed and to say no to products that threaten species!
The ocean is often misunderstood because it is a place of mystery, a place relatively undiscovered; for many of us, disconnected to our practical lives and everyday experiences. But it is a place that we can’t live without, not just for joy and inspiration but for our own human well-being. Fish feed 4.3 billion people on the globe and 50% of our planet’s oxygen is ocean generated–every 2nd breathe we take. And we are still discovering deep sea species that we never knew existed. Imagine we have reached the moon but we have not reached the depths of the seas…so it is imperative to cherish and protect them. Today, I give my name to change the game for the elusive sawfish. Please join me and go wild for life by choosing your own kindred species!
Since its launch, the Wild for Life campaign has engaged 35 celebrity champions, reached over 1 billion people, generated 4.5 million social media interactions, and 12,000 pledges of action.