By Abram Mashego
Secure airports are crucial to winning the fight against rhino poaching and the illicit trade of wildlife throughout the world.
In a bid to intensify the fight against the illegal trade, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw), together with Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and the Lanseria International Airport, have launched a campaign aimed at combating illegal wildlife trafficking.
Passengers arriving and departing from Lanseria will be asked to think twice about wildlife souvenirs as they are confronted with a rigorous advertising campaign aimed at dissuading them from purchasing such products.
Ifaw SA director Jason Bell said it was worrisome that every year millions of wild animals and rare flora were killed or poached to become trinkets and souvenirs. “It is a particular problem in Africa where up to 50000 elephants a year are killed for their ivory – and in South Africa where the poaching of rhino for their horns could literally wipe out the entire species within a few years,” he said.
Bell said the campaign, named Think Twice, would coax travellers not to buy souvenirs made from animal parts, many of which, he said, were illegal and came from endangered species.
“The mantra to remember when buying souvenirs should be ‘if we don’t buy, they don’t die’,” Bell said.
Adam Pires, manager of EWT’s skills development unit, said: “Raising awareness is a crucial step in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade as we are losing our precious biodiversity at an alarming rate.”
Pires said the advent of new technologies meant that conservation organisations had to escalate their activities around awareness-building and therefore the Think Twice campaign was a crucial part of the EWT’s strategy to bring an end to the insidious trade.
“We hope that consumers wake up to the fact that the power to save our wildlife heritage does in fact lie in their hands and that this campaign spurs them into making much wiser purchasing decisions in the future,” he said.
Lanseria manager Gavin Sayce said the airport was committed to helping end the illegal trade in endangered species.