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Taking a stand against illegal wildlife trade


Our world is becoming increasingly connected. It has never been easier to visit friends and family overseas, explore new countries and cultures, and send and receive goods from just about anywhere in the world. But this connectivity has a dark side. Criminal networks are taking advantage of efficient and affordable air transport to aide their illegal activities.

Illegal wildlife trade is the fourth most lucrative black market globally after drugs, arms and human trafficking – raking in as much as US$150 billion per year. You’ve probably heard about ivory trafficking, but did you know that around 20,000 African elephants are killed every year for their tusks? That’s one every 25 minutes.

A 2018 study found that China is the number 1 destination for illegal wildlife products, including ivory, rhino horn, pangolin, tiger and others. Hong Kong is a major trade hub for China and is thus on the frontlines when dealing with this issue.

That’s why Cathay Pacific has joined forces with other airlines, NGOs, government authorities and key players to stop wildlife trafficking. In 2016, we signed the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce Buckingham Palace Declaration, which now has more than 100 signatories. We have committed that we will not knowingly facilitate or tolerate the carriage of illegal wildlife products, meaning those that contravene the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES). We have also banned the carriage of all ivory and shark fin products (since 2016) and hunting trophies (since 2015) on our flights.

Our commitment also includes ensuring we train our employees, upgrade our technology, share information and resources with other companies and organisations globally. In 2017 we launched our Sustainable Development Cargo Carriage Policy, and are in the process of rolling out risk profiling of agents who collect goods from us for distribution to onward locations, and improving the screening and labelling processes across the cargo industry in Hong Kong.