The Duke of Cambridge to Visit United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce

The Duke of Cambridge
The Duke of Cambridge speaks with Group Captain Teresa Griffiths following the official handover to the nation of the newly built Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) at the Stanford Hall Estate, Nottinghamshire.


Heathrow, London

Thursday 6th September, 2018

The Duke of Cambridge will visit Royal Mail’s Worldwide International Logistics Centre at Heathrow to see how United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce members are working together to disrupt attempts to traffic illegal wildlife products. The Duke will be joined by Lord Hague of Richmond, who leads The United for Wildlife International Taskforce on the Transportation of Illegal Wildlife Products.

Royal Mail is a signatory of United for Wildlife’s Buckingham Palace Declaration, which brought together the global transport industry leaders in March 2016 to identify ways the transport sector can close down criminal supply routes, and thwart the traffickers as part of efforts to address the urgent poaching crisis. The United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce has over 100 members and provides the transport sector, and those that work with it, support to detect and disrupt trafficking of wildlife products. Through an information sharing system the Taskforce members have received 38 alerts and have supported 32 law enforcement investigations. The alerts are shared with 80% of the world’s shipping fleet and 62 Airlines.

Through close cooperation between Royal Mail, Border Force and Police this group has developed highly professional and sophisticated working relationships to prevent the mail network being used by wildlife traffickers. Membership of Taskforce has enabled the Royal Mail to understand the specific threat to wildlife, and in particular how the postal service could be illegally exploited to import and export items. It has also allowed Royal Mail to build on an already solid foundation and partnership with Border Force, to share knowledge and insight into how these items are hidden in the mail stream. At a local level Royal Mail has provided resources and where needed equipment to facilitate Border Force’s operation. Also, on a wider level it has helped Border Force understand how the postal logistic chain works, how mail flows across the globe, and the way postal operators work. This insight is also used at global level where Royal Mail uses its reach and influence with other postal operators, NGOs, sector stakeholders and policy makers to help stop items being injected and assist national border agencies to intercept these items.

In 2017 Border Force made 139 seizures of ivory items on export through Royal Mail Postal Services from the UK as part of targeted operations. The ivory was destined for Hong Kong and mainland China and included items such as billiard balls, hair brushes, fans, carved finished items and napkin rings. The goods were identified through the use of x-ray technology by screening export mail flows. In February 2018 a single shift targeting Thailand mail imports resulted in 25 seizures by Border Force’s CITES team based at Heathrow who deployed to the depot as part of a targeted operation. These included endangered orchids, health supplements containing cactus extracts and crocodile leather fashion items.

During their visit to the centre, The Duke and Lord Hague will be briefed on the centre’s operations, and see how mail workers are trained to spot parcels. They will then meet Border Force staff who operate on site, view some of the products that have been seized by Border Force officers, and get a briefing on how they work together. They will also meet with some of the officers from the police specialist wildlife crime unit, to see how criminal investigations can result from their partnership work.

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