Indian transport sector joins fight to shut down illegal wildlife trafficking

New Delhi: Representatives from across the transport sector in India have joined global leaders in signing the Buckingham Palace Declaration, showing their commitment to fight criminal wildlife trafficking. At a ceremony on 11 April at the Residence of the British High Commissioner to India, Sir Dominic Asquith, KCMG, three of the biggest shipping and airline companies in India signed the Buckingham Palace Declaration in the presence of His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge. The Maersk Group, already a signatory, was also present.

The Buckingham Palace Declaration commits signatories to eleven commitments that will raise standards across the transportation industry to prevent traffickers from exploiting weaknesses as they seek to covertly move their products from killing field to marketplace. The commitments focus on information sharing, staff training, technological improvements, and resource sharing across companies and organisations worldwide.

The Buckingham Palace Declaration was developed by the United for Wildlife International Taskforce on the Transportation of Illegal Wildlife Products. Released at a signing ceremony on March 15th at Buckingham Palace the Declaration, hailed by The Duke of Cambridge as ‘a game changer in the race against extinction’, is now drawing support from across the globe. Already over 40 CEOs, Chairmen, and other leaders of airlines, shipping firms, port operators, customs agencies, intergovernmental organisations and conservation charities from around the world have signed the Declaration.

The British High Commissioner to India, Sir Dominic Asquith, KCMG, said “The Illegal wildlife trade is a serious organised crime that undermines rule of law, facilitates corruption and steals valuable resources from some of the world’s poorest communities. During Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the UK last November, the UK and India resolved to work together to combat the illegal wildlife trade. We are delighted to welcome Air India, Jet Airways and Apeejay Shipping as new signatories to the Buckingham Palace Declaration, and thank them and the Maersk Group for their support in tackling this global crime.”

Mr. Ashwani Lohani, Chairman and Managing Director, Air India said, “Air India as a national carrier is committed to zero tolerance of illegal transportation of wild life from India on Air India flights. All the cargo consignments/passengers’ baggage, etc. are checked at the entry level and the front line staff are well aware to stop such illegal transportation at the first point of contact”.

Karan Paul, Chairman of Apeejay Shipping said, “The illegal wild life trade is a direct threat to species and goes against stability & diversity of our biosphere. Apeejay Shipping, as a major sea transportation service provider, commits its fleet and our people to being vigilant and to using our information networks globally to break the supply chain of illegal commercial trade in wild life, wild life parts and products. Our tea plantation company Apeejay Tea and Typhoo Tea are investing in Human Elephant Conflict mitigation in Assam and are committed to conserving wildlife and their habitat. We are happy to join the Buckingham Palace Declaration and we hope the international pact will have a measurable and meaningful impact.”

Chairman of Jet Airways, Naresh Goyal, said: “Jet Airways has always been at the forefront in implementing best practices in the aviation industry. As a responsible corporate citizen, we recognise the universal concern for wildlife conservation and taking proactive action against the global scourge that is the illegal trade of wildlife. By signing up to the Buckingham Palace Declaration, Jet Airways commits itself to partner with a global initiative and contribute towards the eradication of the illegal wildlife trade. This collective action will go a long way in ensuring the preservation of our fragile wildlife ecosystem.”

Franck Dedenis, Managing Director, Maersk Line India and Sri Lanka said “We welcome the Duke’s efforts to raise awareness on this in India. Maersk Line has a zero tolerance towards illegal transport of wildlife. By signing the Buckingham Declaration, we are committing to take real steps across our operations including India, to shut down the routes exploited by traffickers of the illegal wildlife trade moving their products from killing field to marketplace.” He added, “The initiative overall further strengthens our ability to get valuable intelligence on routes and ports with higher risk of illegal activity in and around India as well as to screen data and cargo in order to identify potential shipments of suspected illegal wildlife.” (ANI)