Head of wildlife treaty urges airlines to rethink animal shipment boycotts: UNEP

Head of wildlife treaty urges airlines to rethink animal shipment boycotts: UNEP

The head of an international convention on wildlife said today that boycotts by airline companies of shipments containing legally traded wildlife work against the interests of the animals themselves and of poor people in developing countries, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Reacting to an announcement by the German carrier Lufthansa that it will no longer transport animals captured in the wild for commercial purposes, Willem Wijnestekers, Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), noted that the economies and rural communities of many developing countries were highly dependent on natural resources, including wildlife, UNEP said in a statement issued today.

Mr. Wijnestekers said the signatories of CITES had agreed to a strict set of rules to ensure that the trade was conducted in a way that did not endanger the species involved and gave poor communities an economic stake in protecting the wildlife that they "live with on a daily basis."

He added that a trend towards bans would undermine both animal welfare and conservation efforts by pushing shipments onto second-tier airlines and charters, where conditions for animals might be worse and flight times longer.

CITES was adopted in 1973 in response to concerns about the overexploitation of many vulnerable species as a result of unregulated international trade. The Convention, administered by UNEP, attributes producer and consumer countries joint responsibility for managing wildlife sustainably and preventing illegal trade.