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Wildlife traffickers exploiting air transport sector worldwide

Wildlife traffickers exploiting air transport sector worldwide

The USAID ROUTES Partnership just released the most comprehensive assessment of wildlife trafficking in the air transport sector to date. The report, In Plane Sight, reveals the widespread exploitation of airports and airlines by wildlife traffickers, along with new trends and patterns of smuggling behavior.

Wildlife trafficking is an immediate issue that is tied to international safety, health and security concerns, as well as the fate of some of the world’s most iconic species. Based on the findings, the report provides more than a dozen recommendations for airlines, airports and enforcement personnel to help prevent wildlife trafficking.


• Instances of wildlife trafficking in air transport have been recorded in 136 countries worldwide

• Wildlife seizures in air transport have more than quadrupled between 2009-2017

• In 2017, wildlife trafficking seizure numbers increased 40% from 2016 numbers

• Rhino horn seizures nearly tripled (193% increase) from 2016-2017

• A high number of seizures are being missed exiting Southern and Eastern African airports

• Wildlife products such as ivory, rhino horn and pangolin tend to flow from Africa to Asia, often transiting first through the Middle East and Europe

• Live animals, such as birds and reptiles, are generally trafficked on direct flights worldwide with different hotspots on every continent

ROUTES is currently working with many airports, airlines, and freight carriers in trafficking hotspots to raise awareness and train staff on how to detect and stop wildlife trafficking.