Airports across Africa convene to take action against wildlife trafficking

Oct 21, 2019

Accra, Ghana— Recognizing the urgency of the wildlife trafficking crisis, more than 50 participants from airports across Africa attended a workshop hosted by the USAID Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Partnership during the Airports Council International (ACI) Africa Annual General Assembly & Regional Conference and Exhibition in Accra, Ghana last week.

The workshop led by ACI, TRAFFIC, and WWF focused on practical strategies for airports to strengthen protocols and raise awareness to combat wildlife trafficking. During the workshop, participants discussed key gaps, opportunities, and next steps for taking action and identified mechanisms to increase collaboration and communication among airport employees, stakeholders, and law enforcement.

“Wildlife trafficking poses an immediate threat to Africa’s wildlife, threatens regional and local security, and hinders economic development. By raising awareness, strengthening policies, and establishing strong reporting protocols with law enforcement, airport staff across Africa can help increase wildlife seizures and prevent the loss of some of Africa’s most iconic species through wildlife trafficking,” said TRAFFIC’s Michelle Owen, ROUTES Lead. 

ROUTES also delivered a training at the Conference for airport leaders in Africa as part of ACI’s Fund for Airports in Developing Nations Programme on airport environment management. The training covered the local and global implications of wildlife trafficking crimes, common wildlife trafficking trade routes, the modes and methods used by traffickers to smuggle wildlife and wildlife products by air transport, and the best way for staff to report suspicious activity to the authorities. Following the training, participants engaged in a roundtable discussion centered around sharing experiences, insights, and resources for addressing wildlife trafficking at airports. 

“Traffickers attempting to smuggle wildlife through air transport will potentially come into contact with airport staff at multiple points throughout their journey. Training employees to help serve as additional eyes and ears and to support law enforcement by reporting suspicious activities is one of the most significant steps an airport can take in preventing wildlife trafficking,” said Juliana Scavuzzi, Senior Manager of Environment at ACI World. 

In the past decade, more than 300 wildlife trafficking instances have occurred in airports in 32 African countries, according to the C4ADS Air Seizure Database within the ROUTES Dashboard. Elephant poaching alone costs local economies in Africa an estimated $25 million per year in lost tourism revenue[1] and more than 1,000 wildlife protection rangers have died on duty in the past 10 years[2].





The USAID Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Partnership brings together transport and logistics companies, government agencies, development groups, law enforcement, conservation organizations, academia and donors to disrupt wildlife trafficking activities, and forms a key element of the concerted international response to addressing wildlife poaching and associated criminal activities worldwide.

At the heart of ROUTES is a core group of partners collaborating with the U.S. Government and the transport sector that includes Airport Council International (ACI), the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), TRAFFIC and WWF. The Partnership is funded by USAID and coordinated by TRAFFIC. To learn more, visit or follow @ROUTESPartners


The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is responsible for the majority of overseas development assistance from the United States Government and leads international development and humanitarian efforts to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance and help people on their journey to self-reliance. For more information please visit or follow @USAID on Facebook and Twitter.


TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, is the leading non-governmental organization working globally on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. For more information, visit or follow @TRAFFIC_WLTrade

About ACI

Airports Council International (ACI), the trade association of the world’s airports, was founded in 1991 with the objective of fostering cooperation among its member airports and other partners in world aviation, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Air Transport Association and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization. In representing the best interests of airports during key phases of policy development, ACI makes a significant contribution toward ensuring a global air transport system that is safe, secure, efficient and environmentally sustainable. As of January 2019, ACI serves 646 members, operating 1,960 airports in 176 countries.



[1] Source: WWF

[2] Source: Thin Green Line Foundation