Stop. Think. Think again about wildlife souvenirs

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Stop. Think. Think again. A hard-hitting campaign to combat illegal trafficking of wildlife will make passengers arriving and departing Lanseria Airport aims to do just that.

An advertising campaign launched by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) at Lanseria asks passengers to ‘Think Twice about Wildlife Souvenirs’.

“Every year millions of wild animals and rare flora are killed or poached to become trinkets or souvenirs,” says Jason Bell, director IFAW Southern Africa.

“And it is a particular problem in Africa where up to 50 000 elephants a year are killed for their ivory; and in South Africa where the poaching of rhino for their horns could literally wipe out the entire species within a few years.

“The Think Twice campaign asks tourists and business travellers not to buy souvenirs made from animal parts, many of which are illegal and come from endangered species. The mantra to remember when buying souvenirs should be ‘If we don’t buy, they don’t die’,” said Bell.

The initiative has been supported by Lanseria International Airport, which has provided branding xposure throughout the airport precinct for the IFAW and EWT Think Twice campaign.

“Lanseria International Airport is committed to helping end illegal trade in endangered species,” said airport manager, Gavin Sayce.

Think Twice is one of the most high-profile conservation campaigns ever to flight at an international airport.  No passenger travelling through Lanseria International Airport can say they are unaware of the need to protect wildlife, fauna and flora in South Africa and worldwide.

“Lanseria has also implemented a reward programme to encourage staff to report on illegal activities regarding wildlife,” he said.

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Raising awareness is a crucial step in the fight against illegal wildlife trade as we are losing our precious biodiversity at an alarming rate, says Adam Pires, manager of the EWT’s Skills Development Unit. “The advent of new technologies has meant that conservation organisations have had to escalate their activities around awareness building and so the Think Twice campaign is a crucial part of the EWT’s strategy to bring an end to this insidious trade. We hope that consumers wake up to thefact that the power to save our wildlife heritage does in fact lie in theirhands and that this campaign spurs them into making much wiser purchasing decisions in future.”

The Think Twice about Wildlife Souvenirs campaign features dead wild animals and flora circulating on a luggage carousel, making the connection between the species and the souvenirs and collectables that consumers may buy.

The illegal trade in endangered species is estimated to be worth billions of dollars, on a par with drug and arms smuggling, and human trafficking. While ivory and rhinoceros are high-profile victims of trade, at least 5 000 species of wildlife and 25 000 species of plant are listed as endangered by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and their trade regulated.

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