DUBAI // Emirates airline has banned hunting trophies of elephants, rhinos, tigers and lions from all its aircraft.
The airline already has a ban on products and parts of endangered animals and plants listed under appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).
The new policy, which came into effect on Friday, bans such cargo whether the animals are protected by Cites or not.
An Emirates Skycargo spokesman said: “As part of our efforts to prevent the illegal trade in trophies of elephant, rhinoceros, lion and tiger, we will not accept any kind of hunting trophies of these animals for carriage on Emirates services irrespective of the Cites appendix.”
The restriction means that the airline has gone a step farther than the Cites regulation, which specifically bans animals that are threatened with extinction or are critically endangered.
Others carriers have similar bans, including South African Airways, which introduced the rules last month.
An Etihad Airways spokesman said the company “complies with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora”, meaning the airline observed and implemented all Cites rules governing the international trade in endangered species of animals and plants.
“In addition, Etihad Airways works closely with Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, to counter the illegal wildlife trade,” he said.
The ban could affect the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition, an annual event where taxidermists from around the world show their work.
Charles Le Roux, a taxidermist who appeared at Adihex last year, said UAE consumers were not as enthusiastic about mounted heads or taxidermy, but the ban would have an effect.
“This market, they don’t usually want the animal,” said Mr Le Roux, co-owner of the South African hunting-safari company Dubula.
“They want the skin, that’s pretty much it. They don’t really want the shoulder mount. They would rather come here and buy one.”
The ban also reinforces the UAE policy of zero tolerance for illegal wildlife hunting.
Last month, 10 tonnes of smuggled elephant ivory worth more than US$20 million (Dh73.4m) were destroyed.
“The destruction of the confiscated ivory stockpiles in the state is in compliance with the values and the commitment to contribute to international efforts to conserve biodiversity and protect endangered species,” said Dr Rashid bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water.
“In this way, we can take a step forward and send a message that the UAE will continue to be supportive of international conventions to combat illegal trade.”
Last month, security officials at Dubai International Airport confiscated 84 African elephant tusks that were in transit between the Ivory Coast and Vietnam.
In 2012 and 2013, Dubai Customs intercepted shipments containing 474 ivory tusks at Jebel Ali Port. Last year, authorities seized 301 pieces of ivory at the airport.
The illegal wildlife trade is estimated to generate US$19 billion (Dh70bn) a year globally, ranking fourth on the list of the most lucrative illegal activities, behind drugs, counterfeiting and human trafficking.
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