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Airport staff take on traffickers

Hundreds of Suvarnabhumi airport staff will undergo intensive training in an effort to halt illegal wildlife trafficking under the "Wildlife Trafficking Stops Here" campaign.

Jointly organised by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and Airports of Thailand (AoT), the campaign is aimed at stopping the growing problem of wildlife trafficking through the airport.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti said long term public awareness of nature crimes was needed among passengers who are being urged not to buy protected species.

Part of the campaign will involve projecting anti-trafficking messages on TV monitors and posting placards throughout the airport, particularly at immigration gates and check-in booths in the departure hall. A two-day wildlife trade regulation course will be organised for hundreds of airport staff.

Suvarnabhumi airport is one of Asia's busiest transport hubs, serving more than 30 million passengers a year. It was also known as a major conduit for illegal wildlife trafficking, Mr Suwit said.

US ambassador to Thailand Eric John, who is involved in the campaign, said thousands of wild animals flowed through trafficking hotspots such as the airport every day to destinations around the world.

More than 30,000 species of wild plants and animals were on the international endangered list with many already on the brink of extinction, he said.

Mr John said the two-day wildlife trade regulation course, supported by the US government and the Asean Wildlife Enforcement Network (Asean-WEN), would teach staff how to identify and handle the smuggling of protected wildlife products, and gain knowledge on national and international wildlife trade laws.

"They will be trained to prevent illegal wildlife trafficking at the airport in order to make Suvarnabhumi an international environmental model for other airports to emulate," Mr John said.

About 250 airport staff were expected to attend.

In order to avoid detection, the traffickers hide various creatures as cargo or treat them as baggage.

In January last year, 1.4 tonnes of live snakes were discovered in Hanoi on a Vietnam Airlines flight from Suvarnabhumi airport and in June more than 1,000 snakes and rare turtles were found at the airport.

Records kept by Asean-WEN show that from mid-July to December last year, 23,375 live animals were rescued and more 14.6 tonnes of dead animals were recovered in the region.

If the wildlife trafficking continued, anywhere between 13% and 42% of Southeast Asia's animal and plant species could be wiped out within this century.

From : Bangkok Post

 Posted by Mary on March 10 2009 22:19:06 0 Comments : Reads 2480 Print  

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