Jet, Kingfisher used in illegal wildlife trade: WCCB

Airlines deny charges, Kingfisher says "hard to screen all luggage"


Danish Raza | March 7, 2011

Jet Airways and Kingfisher airlines have regularly been used in smuggling of body parts of endangered species.

The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) informed this as response to the RTI query filed by Governance Now.

“As per the information received by the Bureau, the Jet Airways and Kingfisher airlines had been used in illegal wildlife trade cases,” said the reply signed by Ramesh K Pandey, central public information officer, WCCB.

WCCB, which comes under the ministry of environment and forests (MOEF), also informed that since its inception in 2007, the bureau has twice received information pertaining to the involvement of private airlines in smuggling of wildlife articles.

According to the reply, WCCB is aware about a consignment of wildlife parts including that of tigers that was caught at Guwahati airport destined to Imphal through a passenger airline.

WCCB and other enforcement agencies have been regularly feeding the MOEF on private airlines being used in illegal wildlife trade.

The issue was last raised in the second meeting of the special coordination committee on wildlife crime which took place n January 20.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the intelligence bureau, CBI, Delhi police, CISF, bureau of civil aviation and security, ITBP and BSF among others.

In the meeting, wildlife investigators reportedly told environment minister Jairam Ramesh that two major private airlines were found to be involved in illegal trade of endangered species in the northeastern region of the country.

However, the names of the airlines were not made public after the meeting.

The minister asked WCCB officials to take the issue ‘systematically’.

It is believed that Ramesh will consult the civil aviation ministry on the possibility of cancelling the licenses of the airlines which have been involved in such illegal trade.

Jet airways spokesperson said that the charges were baseless. “Our legal department will take action against anybody who is making such allegations, she said.

Kingfisher airlines absolved itself of any charges. "we have little control over what our guests carry in their check-in and hand baggage," the airline told Governance Now via email.



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