Seventy-three Vietnamese airport officials took part in a new global training program in Hanoi this week to help stop illegal wildlife trafficking through airports.

The Wildlife Friendly Skies workshop, organized in partnership with the Biodiversity Conservation Agency of Vietnam’s Environment Administration under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and the Northern Airport Authority of Vietnam, focused on commercial flight routes connecting Vietnam to other wildlife source, transit and consumer countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

Carried out under the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supported Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) program by USAID implementing partner, Freeland, the workshop took place at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport. Law enforcement and wildlife experts presented real case studies to illustrate the scale and seriousness of wildlife smuggling. Trainers also provided tips on how to identify wildlife species and products, how to profile traffickers and examples of smuggling methods.

Participants included officers working in ground services, customs, cargo handling, quarantine services and other departments relating to the inspection and detection of wild animals. Participants learned more about the illegal wildlife trafficking issue in Vietnam and internationally, as well as how to detect and respond to wildlife trafficking cases.

Globally, the illegal trade in endangered species is estimated to be worth between $7 and $23 billion per year. It is recognized as a significant threat contributing to the rapid depletion of the world’s biodiversity. Evidence also suggests the illegal trade is increasingly controlled by organized transnational criminal syndicates, with airlines commonly used to smuggle endangered species such as birds, primates and turtles.

The training course is part of a larger counter wildlife trafficking airport campaign in Vietnam, which will also include the placement of signs, banners, LCD screens playing public service announcements and inflight media targeting passengers travelling through airports.

Now in its fourth year, the USAID-funded ARREST program is the U.S. Government’s largest counter wildlife trafficking initiative in Southeast Asia working to stop wildlife crime.

Source: USAID/RDMA Regional Environment Office Weekly Update

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