ROUTES Partnership and Kenya Airways train transport staff to help curb wildlife trafficking

Mar 01, 2018

Nairobi, Kenya, March 1, 2018- To help detect and stop smugglers carrying ivory, rhino horn, and other wildlife products out of Kenya, the USAID Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Partnership today delivered a training workshop in Nairobi for airline transport staff on the key role they play in preventing the trafficking of wildlife. Cabin crew, ground handlers, cargo processors, and staff from regional airports participated in the interactive sessions.

First Lady of Kenya Margaret Kenyatta attended the morning sessions, alongside Robert F. Godec, the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya; Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary Tourism and Wildlife; and Chris Oburu, Chief Administrative Secretary Transport and Infrastructure Development.

ROUTES, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is a public-private partnership that brings together government agencies, the transportation and logistics industry, and international conservation, development and law enforcement organizations and donors to disrupt wildlife trafficking activities.

“Wildlife trafficking is one of the most prominent transnational organized crimes in the world, ranking along with drug, human, and arms trafficking in annual value,” said Ambassador Godec. “Wildlife traffickers exploit global transportation, threaten human health and security, and are driving some species to extinction.”

According to a recent ROUTES report analyzing wildlife trafficking in the air transport sector, Kenya serves as a significant transit point for poachers and traffickers supplying wildlife products to Asia. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) is the busiest airport in East and Central Africa and is a target for wildlife trafficking, particularly ivory trade. Kenyan authorities are proactive in addressing wildlife smuggling in JKIA, often seizing illegal products at the airport.

“Wildlife trafficking is a transportation-intensive activity and smugglers carrying illegal wildlife and wildlife products need to interact with airport and airline staff at multiple points during the journey,” said Michelle Owen, ROUTES Lead. “Increasing the ability of staff to identify and report suspicious activities linked to wildlife trafficking is crucial for stopping traffickers that abuse the transport sector.”

Many in the transportation sector are recognizing the need to take action against wildlife trafficking. Today’s ROUTES workshop taught airline employees how to recognize common wildlife trafficking techniques and provided information on how best to respond to and report wildlife trafficking incidents. Airport staff in Nairobi are now equipped with materials and resources that will help them protect Kenya’s natural heritage from smugglers and traffickers.

“Kenya Airways is among the airlines who have signed the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce Declaration. This underlines our unquestionable commitment to a zero-tolerance policy against illegal wildlife trafficking and trade. It is vital that the private sector work in collaboration with government agencies and international partners to scale up the response to conservation challenges.  Kenya Airways is a key player in the industry and we stand for sustainable tourism,” said Sebastian Mikosz, MD and CEO of Kenya Airways.

“Airline staff spend more time with passengers, their baggage, and cargo shipments than customs officers,” says Jon Godson, the International Air Transport Association’s Assistant Director, Aviation Environment. “They can provide a key source of intelligence for the enforcement agencies.”

The training in Nairobi was part of a series of training workshops that ROUTES will conduct for airport and airline staff this year at key wildlife trafficking hubs across Africa and Asia. ROUTES recently conducted training in Mozambique, and over the next few months, ROUTES will hold training sessions in Uganda, Malawi, Ethiopia, and Malaysia.



The Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Partnership brings together government agencies, transportation and logistics industry companies and representatives, and international conservation, development and law enforcement organizations and donors in order 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 the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), Freeland, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), TRAFFIC and the World Wildlife Fund. The Partnership is funded by USAID and coordinated by TRAFFIC. To learn more, visit or follow @ROUTESPartners.

About Kenya Airways

Kenya Airways, a member of the Sky Team Alliance, is a leading African airline flying to 51 destinations worldwide, 42 of which are in Africa and carries over three million passengers annually. It continues to modernize its fleet with its 32 aircrafts being some of the youngest in Africa. This includes its flagship B787 Dreamliner aircrafts. The on-board service is renowned and the lie-flat business class seat on the wide-body aircraft is consistently voted among the world’s top 10. Kenya Airways takes pride for being in the forefront of connecting Africa to the World and the World to Africa through its hub at the new ultra-modern Terminal 1A at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. Kenya Airways celebrated 40 years of operations in January 2017 and was named Africa Leading Airline 2017 by the World Travel Awards. For more information, please visit or call our 24HR Contact Center: +254 20 327 4747, Twitter: @KenyaAirways, Facebook: KenyaAirways, Instagram: OfficialKenyaAirways


The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) leads the U.S. Government’s foreign assistance efforts.  In Kenya, USAID works in the areas of public health, primary education, economic growth and governance.  For more information please visit or follow @USAIDKenya 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 IATA

IATA represents some 265 airlines comprising 83% of global air traffic. For more information, visit or follow@IATA2press