Lufthansa Departs From Animal Cargo Trade
FRANKFURT, Germany, May 1, 2001 (ENS) - One of the world's biggest airlines has announced it will no longer transport wild animals for commercial purposes. In an announcement made with conservation groups in attendance, representatives from Lufthansa said the decision is effective today.
"We will thus make a key contribution towards protecting wildlife and endangered species within our possibilities as an airline," said Dr. Andreas Otto of Lufthansa's cargo division.
"Commercial trading in animals represents a serious threat to wildlife species," said Daniela Freyer of Munich based Pro Wildlife. "The high mortality rates linked with this trade and the violation of natural habitats are a growing threat to the survival of wildlife."
Niki Entrup, director of WDCS Germany, said Lufthansa had set an example for other airlines to follow.
"We hope that the joint commitment will lead to a general turnaround in the international trade in wild animals," said Entrup. "Lufthansa's decision is an important first step towards preventing the wholesale trade in wild animals. Now it is up to other airlines to make similar decisions."
The three organizations have drawn up criteria to ensure that only transports of wild animals involving the reintroduction of animals to the wild, scientifically conducted breeding programs to protect endangered species or life-saving measures will be carried out.
This takes place often in cramped conditions with inadequate ventilation and extreme temperature fluctuations.
Last September, the Taiwan based China Airlines, the second largest transporter of non-human primates destined for research in United States laboratories, announced it would no longer accept such business.
Every year, commercial airlines transport more than 10,000 non-human primates such as baboons, Rhesus macaques, Owl monkeys and marmosets, to the U.S.
The leading carrier in this niche is Air France, which carried 27 shipments, totalling 3,274 Long-tailed macaques, last year. All the shipments originated in Mauritius and reached Chicago or Houston via Paris.
Air France defends the practice, saying that it complies with the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations on humane transport of animals.
That code states that animal enclosures must be, "large enough to ensure that the animal has sufficient space to turn around freely in a normal manner, lie down, stand up (as appropriate for the species), and sit in a normal upright position without its head touching the top of the enclosure."
No whales or dolphins have been transported by the airline since December 1999.
Otto said the airline tries to ensure that "live cargo" begins its journey under the best possible conditions, and is in "top form" when it lands.
"If, in terms of wildlife protection or conservation, there are any reasons against a transport, Lufthansa Cargo will refuse it," added Werner Schüssler, vice president of global cargo handling at Lufthansa Cargo.