Nairobi, Aug 16 – Kenya Airways (KQ) and the USAID-led Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) partnership have come together to create awareness of the continued fight against illegal wildlife trade.

Through the partnership, Kenya Airways has launched a video to create stakeholders’ awareness about protecting the nation’s national heritage. This effort is part of KQ’s sustainability strategy to contribute to Africa’s sustainable development through wildlife conservation, according to a joint KQ-USAID press statement issued on World Elephants Day on August 12.

Much of Africa’s wildlife is threatened by the illegal wildlife trade. It is estimated that 55 African elephants are poached every day. In 2016, Kenya Airways signed the Buckingham Palace Declaration, acting against wildlife trafficking through transport systems.

Kenya’s economy is highly dependent on ecotourism, with wildlife lovers and adventurers travelling from across the globe for a sighting of a leopard lounging on a tree branch or elephants playing at the watering hole.

“The demand for exotic ornaments, traditional medicines, pets, and fashion that sees wildlife poached for a profit is threatening Kenya’s sustainable source of tourism income. The country also acts as a significant transit point in illegal wildlife smuggling routes. Tackling the trafficking, therefore, provides hope in protecting elephants and economic gains made from tourism not only for Kenya but other nations across the continent as well,” said Kenya Airways Chief Executive Officer, Allan Kilavuka.

The campaign encourages airports, airlines, and associations to boost their efforts to combat wildlife trafficking through various awareness-raising and staff training activities. Many airlines and airports, like Kenya Airways, are working alongside the ROUTES partnership to raise awareness and provide training to staff on how they can help.

“A successful response to wildlife trafficking requires concerted efforts across a range of stakeholders throughout the transportation industry. We’re delighted to see Kenya Airways spreading this message proactively in their new video and encouraged by the steps they’re taking to help stop this trade,’ said Crawford Allan, ROUTES lead.

The recent history of Kenya’s elephant numbers provides hope. Since instigating a crackdown on poaching in the country, Kenya has seen its elephant population numbers double over the last 30 years – a promising encouragement for other countries where poaching remains a dire threat to elephants.