The illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be valued between $50-150 billion USD per year, and is among the five most lucrative global crimes. The illegal wildlife trade fuels instability and criminality in both demand and supply countries. The transport industry and customs authorities can become involved, often unwittingly, with those who traffic wildlife products – such as ivory, rhino horn and pangolin scales.
Combining forces with the private sector is crucial in stopping the trafficking of illegal wildlife products. By forming partnerships with businesses from the transport sector, United for Wildlife is trying to break the chains of illegal wildlife trade; this is why the Transport Taskforce was established.
In 2014, The Duke of Cambridge announced the formation of the Transport Taskforce, with the objective of engaging the transport sector in identifying and developing relevant and targeted solutions to wildlife trafficking. The Taskforce brought together transport stakeholders including airports, shipping companies and airlines with law enforcement and other agencies to identify and facilitate action led by the private sector.
The result was the development of the Buckingham Palace Declaration. The 11 commitments outlined within the Declaration assist the transport industry in guiding a response to the crisis represented by illegal wildlife trade – detailing actions across a number of areas including increasing awareness, reporting and enforcing. Now signed by over 100 transport sector companies from across the globe, the Taskforce is taking steps every day to help stop the trafficking of wildlife products.
For example, Royal Mail is working with enforcement agencies such as Border Force to detect and seize illegal wildlife products trafficked through the global postal system. Emirates airline has repainted A380 jets with images of endangered species and the United for Wildlife logo, and Bangkok Airways has produced a range of information materials including videos and sticker books for children.
The 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in October saw the world’s attention focused on London, bringing together international leadership and securing political commitments to end illegal wildlife trade. A panel during this conference included Lord Hague, chair of the Transport Taskforce, sitting down with several members of the Taskforce to discuss their early achievements and future plans with delegates from around the world.