Earlier this month, Qatar Airways Cargo unveiled the second chapter of its WeQare sustainability initiative. With “Rewild the Planet” the airline has pledged “to fly wild animals back to where they belong, at no cost.” CFG wanted to know a little more about the initiative and asked Guillaume Halleux (GH), Chief Officer Cargo at Qatar Airways Cargo, to elaborate.
CFG: When is the first such animal transport expected to take place?
GH: The official, public launch of Chapter 2 was on 01FEB21. We have a few animal shipments for 2021 and once they are confirmed, we will share the details with the media and public.
CFG: Will these animal transports be carried out on charter flights since their natural habitat may be off the normal network grid?
GH: Should there be a case where their habitat is off our normal network grid, we will consider the possibility of charter flights.
Looking back at our past animal movements for conservation, many of those have been to Africa and Asia, where we have an extensive network, so a number of the key conservation destinations can be reached via our gateways. Of course, there will likely be ground transportation required when we land, which is arranged by the conservation organizations. In case of specific requests to destinations not part of our network, we will evaluate all options and make the best decision in terms of both the animal’s welfare, as well as operational feasibility.
CFG: Does Chapter 2 also apply to street dogs, for example, or just true wildlife?
GH: Chapter 2 is about wildlife. We already implemented a program in 2020 to support the transportation of street pets for adoption. That program was fully booked in no time.
CFG: How does this tie in with moving animals from one zoo to another?
GH: The purpose is to bring wild animals home to where they belong. Commercial transportation of exotic animals is not applicable to this program.
CFG: Does Qatar transport animals for lab experiments?
GH: No, Qatar Airways Cargo does not transport animals for lab experiments.
CFG: What experience can Qatar show already when it comes to transporting endangered animals?
GH: We have been transporting animals since a number of years. A good example we can mention, is the transport of Eric the Rhino, in 2018. In collaboration with animal transport specialist,
Intradco Global, we flew Eric, a 1,157 kilograms black rhino from San Diego Zoo in California to his new home in Tanzania, for the Singita Grumeti Fund, a non-profit organization carrying out
wildlife conservation and community development work in the western corridor of the Serengeti ecosystem in Tanzania.
Another example is Peggy, the Olive Ridley turtle, who flew on our flight from Brussels to the Maldives via Doha. Peggy was rescued by a team of Marine Savers when she got trapped in fish nets in 2016. She had to get one flipper removed, in order to save her life. After this important surgery, Peggy got the chance to recover in the aquarium of Pairi Daiza, elected Europe’s best zoo in 2019. With the excellent care of her keepers in the Belgian facilities, Peggy regained confidence and the ability to swim. After three years of rehabilitation, Peggy was ready to be released back into the ocean.
These are just two of many examples and, taking our commitment to the welfare of wildlife further, we introduced “Rewild the Planet” to transport wild animals to their habitat free of charge.
CFG: How long will “Rewild the Planet” run, or is it intended as a permanent fixture?
GH: Chapter 2 – Rewild the Planet will run for the next 24 months. After this, we will consider making it permanent.
Thank you, Guillaume Halleux!
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