Snow Leopard Panthera uncia – a species threatened by illegal trade and one of the species used within awareness-raising stands at Delhi National Airport

Snow Leopard Panthera uncia – a species threatened by illegal trade and one of the species used within awareness-raising stands at Delhi National Airport


Published 25 April 2019

Indian Customs Department installs illegal wildlife trade displays at Delhi International Airport

New Delhi, India, 25th April 2019—The Indian Customs Department; TRAFFIC and WWF-India are reaching out to travellers passing through Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi—India’s busiest airport—on issues related to poaching and illegal wildlife trade. Five life-sized, brightly lit standee displays of Snow Leopard Panthera uncia; Greater One-horned Rhino Rhinoceros unicornis; pangolins Manis spp.; Asian Elephant Elephas maximus; and Don’t Buy Trouble (which lists prohibited wildlife species for possession or trade in India) have been set up in the Arrivals area, at the Customs checkpoint in Terminal 3.

One of the stands on display © Delhi Customs

Snow Leopard is poached for its fur and body parts while Greater One-horned Rhino is targeted for its horn used in supposed body tonics. Pangolins—reported to be the most trafficked wild mammal globally—are poached for their scales and meat. Asian Elephant is poached for its tusks, used to make artefacts and jewelry, and sometimes for its meat and skin or even as live animals. 

Unsustainable consumer demand, met through illegal trade in wildlife products, is a leading threat facing many such wildlife species today. Traffickers rely on existing transport links to smuggle illegal wildlife products to consumers across the world. Misuse of the aviation system by smugglers to evade Customs and other enforcement agencies is a major concern. Meanwhile, both international and domestic airline passengers are sometimes unaware about the illegality of buying certain wildlife products and the grave conservation impact of their actions on various species in the wild. 

In India, the Customs Department is tasked with preventing trade of contraband, including illegal wildlife products, across the borders at entry/exit points. 

Dr Amandeep Singh, Additional Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Customs, IGI Airport, Terminal-3, Delhi said: “Illegal wildlife trade has grown to become a very serious crime globally. Here at Customs, we recognise this threat to our country’s biodiversity and have therefore undertaken this awareness initiative to help enlighten travellers as well as Customs officials about the species impacted by illegal wildlife trade. Customs is fully behind the efforts to control wildlife crime in the country.” 

Mr Manish Kumar, IRS, Commissioner of Customs, IGI Airport further added: “Stamping out wildlife crime and smuggling is a high priority objective for Indian Customs. At the IGI Airport, we are constantly alert for any attempts to smuggle wildlife contrabands. We appreciate the efforts undertaken by TRAFFIC and WWF-India for engaging in initiatives that will help to curtail smuggling of wildlife products and derivatives”. 

This is the first time TRAFFIC has partnered with Customs at Delhi’s IGI airport and we hope this partnership can be extended to other airports in the country.

Dr Saket Badola, Head of TRAFFIC’s India office

“Across the globe, wildlife traffickers use air transport to move illegal consignments of ivory, rhino horn, live mammals, reptiles, birds, pangolins, marine products, insects and even precious woods. Enforcement agencies based at airports have a critical role in helping prevent this illicit trade.”

Mr Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO of WWF-India added, “Lack of awareness is one of the biggest hurdles in efforts to curtail wildlife trafficking in the air transport sector. These displays will help raise awareness and sensitise both travellers and airport staff about wildlife trafficking through the air transport sector.” 

TRAFFIC encourages travellers to look out for the displays at the Arrivals hall, Terminal 3, IGI airport, Delhi; take a picture and share it widely to raise awareness about illegal wildlife trade in India. You can tag TRAFFIC on Facebook at TRAFFIC, India Office and on Twitter at @TRAFFIC_India.