IATA and CITES to cooperate on reducing illegal trade in wildlife

Updated on 12 January 2021

For use of the media only;
not an official document.



IATA and CITES to cooperate on reducing illegal trade in wildlife


8 June 2015 (Miami, Geneva) – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate on reducing illegal trade in wildlife and their products, as well as on ensuring the safe and secure transport of legally traded wildlife. 

Under the MOU, IATA and CITES will formalize their ongoing cooperation on the implementation of standards and best practices such as the IATA Live Animals Regulations, the IATA Perishable Cargo Regulations and the CITES Guidelines for the Non-Air Transport of Live Wild Animals and Plants. They will also support joint training and communications activities.

CITES is a legally-binding agreement with 181 State Parties, setting the rules for international wildlife trade in more than 35,000 species of animals and plants. Over recent years there has been a surge in the illegal trade of wildlife and their products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and rare timbers, with many smugglers misusing the complex international aviation system to evade customs and other enforcement agencies.

“CITES and IATA have long cooperated to ensure that legitimately-traded animals and plants are carried as safely and comfortably as possible. This MoU formalizes our work programs. The responsibility for enforcement of the rules governing international wildlife trade is clearly with governments. But well-trained airline staff can be an invaluable source of information on suspicious passenger behavior and unusual shipments. Airlines are good corporate citizens. Our collaboration with CITES will help the industry to play a role in stopping the terrible scourge of illegal trade in wildlife that threatens some of the most precious animal and plant life on our planet,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO. 

John E Scanlon, the Secretary-General of CITES, who addressed the IATA Annual General Meeting today, added “We live in an interconnected world where the great benefits of global air transport are also being abused by criminals to transport illegally traded wildlife. IATA and its Member airlines can play a critical  role in assisting customs and other enforcement agencies to gather valuable intelligence of suspicious activities, and in raising awareness amongst customers, passengers and staff of the devastating impacts of this illegal trade. Today we are confronted by transnational organized criminals, and in some cases rebel militia and rouge elements of the military, which are driving industrial scale poaching and illegal trade for illicit off shore markets.  The profound impact this poaching and illegal trade is having upon entire species and ecosystems and the services they provide, local peoples and their livelihoods, national economies, and national and regional security is now increasingly well recognized. We warmly welcome the strengthening of our collaboration with IATA to address guidelines and standards for legal trade, and to now extend our collaboration to combatting illegal trade in wildlife.”

See also: CITES Secretary-General's remarks at the 71st IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit

- IATA -

For more information, please contact:

Corporate Communications
Tel: +41 22 770 2967

Email: [email protected]

Notes for editors:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 260 airlines comprising 83% of global air traffic.
  • You can follow us at http://twitter.com/iata2press for news specially catered for the media. You can follow news on the AGM at #IATAAGM
  • More media resources from the AGM, including b-rolls, are available at www.iata.org/agm-news


For more information, please contact:

Liu Yuan at +41 22 917 8130 or [email protected].

Notes for editors:

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was signed in Washington D.C. on 3 March 1973.  CITES remains one of the world's most powerful tools for biodiversity conservation through the regulation of trade in wild fauna and flora. The CITES permit system seeks to ensure that international trade in listed species is sustainable, legal and traceable.
Learn more about CITES by visiting www.cites.org or connecting to: