DHL Asia Works to Stop Illegal Wildlife Shipments

By Nina Rygh

Major international shipping company DHL has teamed up with TRAFFIC to improve and strengthen their in-country supply chains against wildlife trafficking. To promote company-wide awareness, TRAFFIC delivered a capacity workshop to all staff in DHL eCommerce and DHL Express in Vietnam and Thailand this month.

Vietnam has one of the world's highest rates of illegal wildlife trafficking through air transport and is the second most common destination for poached rhino horns. In recent years however, Vietnam have also increased their efforts to combat this illegal trade and have intercepted many large-scale shipments including several seizures of rhino horn, ivory and other illegal wildlife products.

While the government leads the transition, companies in the area are stepping up their efforts to combat poaching. The DHL workshop included information about the local and global implications of wildlife trafficking, the role of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), common wildlife trafficking routes, the methods wildlife traffickers for use to ship illegal items, and the risk these crimes pose to the transport and logistic sector.

Participants of the workshop discussed the potential vulnerable points along their transportation routes and supply chains and ways to strengthen their company’s operations and reporting mechanisms for wildlife trafficking. The workshop was delivered by the USAID-funded wildlife trafficking response, assessment and priority setting project, better known as Wildlife TRAPS.

“It has become critically important for DHL to work together as a group to identify the smuggling of live animals and their parts and derivatives through cargo, post and express channels, and to ascertain actions to reduce these risks," said Thomas Harris, Managing Director of DHL eCommerce Vietnam, "Our cohesive effort towards cutting off transportation links of these products to buyers is a small but important step towards ending illegal wildlife trade on a global scale”

The Deutsche Post DHL group is already a signatory member of the United for Wildlife transport task force Buckingham Palace Declaration, which help the transport industry identify the role they play in illegal wildlife trade and design ways to break the chain between supplier and consumer.

“These workshops can be seen as another practical step towards meeting the commitments made” said TRAFFICS Monica Zavagali, Wildlife TRAPS senior project officer.

TRAFFIC will continue to provide technical guidance to DHL in Vietnam to support the implementation of those action points identified during the event.

DHL is not the only company to recognize the need for action. Etihad distributed a 20-minute online course to inform its employees about the potential risk associated with illegal trade and ways to prevent them. Several global tech companies including Alibaba, Baidu, eBay, Facebook, Instagram and Microsoft are also joining in the fight.

As the loopholes wildlife traffickers use to send their products across country lines shrink, so to does the market appeal for these products.