ATL hosts launch of national campaign against illegal wildlife trafficking

Filed in Events, News by on September 13, 2016

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) on Wednesday, Sept. 7 joined the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and conservation nonprofit group WildAid in launching a national campaign against illegal wildlife trade.

Globally, wildlife trafficking is a $10 billion to $20 billion annual industry, ranking just behind human trafficking, weapons trafficking and drug trafficking. And the United States is one of the largest illegal wildlife markets in the world. This trade is often run by dangerous criminal syndicates who traffic animal parts such as rhino horn, elephant ivory and tiger bones.

“Hartsfield-Jackson stands adamantly against illegal wildlife trade,” interim Airport General Manager Roosevelt Council Jr. told onlookers at a press event in the Domestic Terminal. “As the world’s most traveled airport and a major international point of entry, our inspectors work tirelessly each day to keep such products out of this country. But there’s more we can — and must — do to stop this.”

Council was joined by WildAid CEO Peter Knights, WildAid ambassador Michael Cudlitz of The Walking Dead, and Special Agent in Charge Luis Santiago of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife’s Southeast region.

The campaign comes as a new survey shows a steep decline in the African elephant population, along with a dramatic drop in the number of rhinos, tigers, lions and sea turtles. Meanwhile, a recent poll commissioned by WildAid found that 80 percent of Americans know little or nothing about illegal wildlife trade in the U.S.

Knights said WildAid wants to educate and boost public awareness in an effort to save the world’s endangered species.

“We’re trying to popularize conservation and, at the same time, stigmatize consumption of wildlife products,” said Knights, who stood near a display of illegally trafficked items.

A simultaneous press event took place at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Both ATL and LAX are major U.S. entry points where wildlife product seizures are common.

“Learn about wildlife trafficking,” Council said, “so you can help us put a stop to it.”

For more information, go to www.StopWildlifeTrafficking.org.

WildAid ambassador Michael Cudlitz of The Walking Dead speaks during the press event.

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