by Chrispinus Omar
NAIROBI, March 3 (Xinhua) -- Kenya Airways Friday announced its partnership with the UN Environment (UNEP) to help end wildlife crime, as the world marked this year's World Wildlife Day.
The Kenyan carrier that has declared zero tolerance for wildlife smuggling on its aircrafts said the partnership would effectively cut off a main transport route for smuggling wildlife, dead and alive, from Africa to the Middle East and East Asia.
Kenya Airways Group CEO Mbuvi Ngunze said in a statement that the partnership with UNEP underlined the airline's commitment to fighting illegal wildlife trade.
He said the company now wants to scale up its efforts by working with UNEP to provide regular messaging about wildlife crime prevention across its customer touch points, including in-flight entertainment and announcements, and staff trainings.
The partnership came in the wake of a poaching crisis across Africa that is wreaking havoc on creatures including elephants, rhinos, pangolins and African Gray Parrots.
"We are delighted to announce, on the occasion of World Wildlife Day, a partnership between Kenya Airways and UNEP to help end the illegal trade in wildlife," said head of UN Environment Erik Solheim in a statement issued in Nairobi.
Erik Solheim , head of UN Environment, said in a statement that engagement of private sector companies is critical to tackling wildlife crime.
"Airlines in particular connect a large global consumer base and unfortunately the illegal supply chain," he said. "They can act as a front line agent for change."
The illegal trade in wildlife is lining the pockets of criminal networks with an estimated 23 billion U.S. dollars annually, putting the trade in the same league as the trafficking of drugs, arms and humans.