Emirates SkyCargo, the world’s third-largest cargo carrier, has announced it will stop carrying trophies of elephants, rhinos, lions, and tigers aboard its planes.
The ban, which took effect on Friday, makes Emirates SkyCargo the second international carrier to take wildlife conservation measures into its own hands.
In a statement, the Dubai airline said: “Emirates SkyCargo has an existing embargo on the carriage of products and parts of endangered animals and plants listed under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), including hunting trophies.
"However, as part of our efforts to prevent the illegal trade of hunting trophies of elephant, rhinoceros, lion, and tiger, Emirates SkyCargo has decided that effective 15th May 2015, we will not accept any kind of hunting trophies of these animals for carriage on Emirates services irrespective of CITES appendix.”
A spokesperson from Abu Dhabi carrier Etihad Airways added: “We have a comprehensive policy in place which bans the carriage of hunting trophies using animal products.”
South African Airways on April 25 became the first airline to ban the transport of hunting trophies, a move that prompted Chris Greene, chairman of the American Bar Association’s Animal Law Committee, to start a petition to get US airline Delta Airlines to join the ban.
Last month, Dubai Municipality destroyed six tonnes of ivory seized from smugglers, according to an official.
The ivory, which was in all shapes and sizes, consisted of elephant tusks, polished, rough, or bracelets.
It was confiscated by Dubai officials over a number of years and was worth “millions of dirhams”, according to Aisha Al Muhairi, head of the municipality’s marine, environment and wildlife section.
In 2013, Dubai police launched a new campaign to combat the smuggling of elephant ivory tusks, part of an ongoing bid by Dubai authorities to clamp down on the illegal shipment of elephant tusks from Africa to the Far East.
According to media reports, the police awareness campaign was launched in Dubai's International Airport and Transit lounges.
Although international trade in ivory tusks was banned in 1989, ivory remains in high demand in the Far East leading to the continued slaughter of elephants in the Africa region.
By some estimates, up to 750,000 elephants were killed for their tusks in the 1980s leaving a population of 600,000 at the dawn of the 1990s decade when the ban was brought into effect.