Delhi airport gets 5 display boards to warn travellers of illegal wildlife trade, poaching

In an endeavour to spread awareness about poaching and illegal wildlife trade, the customs department and WWF-India have set up five life-sized, brightly lit standees displaying protected species at the international airport here.

New Delhi: In an endeavour to spread awareness about poaching and illegal wildlife trade, the customs department and WWF-India have set up five life-sized, brightly lit standees displaying protected species at the international airport here.

The display boards show pictures of snow leopard (Panthera uncia), greater one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis), pangolins and Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) along with the message "Don't Buy Trouble (which lists prohibited wildlife species for possession or trade in India), a statement issued by NGO TRAFFIC, working globally on trade in wild animals and plants, said.

The boards have been set up in arrival area at the customs checkpoint at Terminal 3, it said.

Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO of World Wide Fund (WWF)-India said, "Lack of awareness is one of the biggest hurdles in efforts to curtail wildlife trafficking in the air transport sector. These displays will help raise awareness and sensitise both travellers and airport staff about wildlife trafficking through the air transport sector."

Snow leopards are poached for their fur and body parts, while greater one-horned rhinos are targeted for their horns used in supposed body tonics, said a press statement issued by TRAFFIC, which is also one of the organisations behind the initiative.

It said Pangolins, reported to be the most trafficked wild mammals globally, are poached for their scales and meat, while Asian elephants are killed for tusks, which are used to make artefacts and jewellery.

"Unsustainable consumer demand for wildlife products is a leading threat facing many such wildlife species today. Traffickers rely on existing transport links to smuggle illegal wildlife products to consumers across the world," the NGO said.

"Misuse of the aviation system by smugglers to evade customs and other enforcement agencies is a major concern. Meanwhile, both international and domestic airline passengers are sometimes unaware about the illegality of buying certain wildlife products and the grave conservation impact of their actions on various species in the wild," it said.

In India, the customs department is tasked with preventing trade of contraband, including illegal wildlife products, across the borders at entry and exit points.