With the various equestrian events taking place last month and early this month, there were a number of horse transports in recent weeks: racehorses, show jumping and dressage horses, thoroughbreds, and… four African wildcats. Not horses, in that case, no, but Servals with free tickets to a better life.
Qatar Airways Cargo had a large line-up of horses, transporting a total of 190 of the world's fastest racehorses and finest show jumping and dressage horses to participate in the Doha, Qatar, Amir Sword Festival (17-19FEB22), the Saudi Cup in Riyadh (25-26FEB22), the two Longines events in Doha: The Commercial Bank CHI AL SHAQAB (24-26FEB22), and the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT - 3-5MAR22).
Prize money (totaling USD 4.34 million) and prestige attracts equestrian competitors from all around the world to the Amir Sword Festival. In this case, the horses carried on Qatar Airways Cargo originated in Ireland, the United Kingdom and France, while those competing in the CHI AL SHAQAB and LGCT, came from all across Europe. In collaboration with the respective horse agents, Qatar Airways Cargo coordinated their transport via the Horse Inn at Liège Airport (LGG) to and from Hamad International Airport (DOH), arranging three full horse charters from LGG to DOH between 19-20FEB22, and back again 28FEB22 and 6-7MAR22.
Not just the prize money is high, there is a lot at stake in ensuring the valuable cargo arrives fit and well at destination: “Racehorses often have a very high value, and they are shipped three to seven days prior to the event in order to be at peak fitness on the race day. We are well versed in dealing with this precious cargo. Horses meanwhile make up around 35% of all our QR Live animal shipments, and we are one of the main horse transportation carriers in the world,” Guillaume Halleux, Chief Officer Cargo at Qatar Airways, revealed.
… careful planning
Arranging the horse transports for the Saudi Cup were a little trickier, since these came from further afield: “Between 14-16 FEB22, Qatar Airways Cargo flew first to Los Angeles (LAX) to pick up four horses, and from there on to Miami (MIA), to collect another eight and fly them all to Riyadh (RUH), Saudi Arabia. Two days later, on 18FEB22, 14 horses were flown from Osaka Airport (KIX) in Japan, to Riyadh, also for the Saudi Cup,” the press release explained, and went on to quote Guillaume Halleux, Chief Officer Cargo at Qatar Airways: “Every horse transport requires meticulous advance planning and coordination with the customers, the specialized freight forwarders, and the respective airport facilities. We take great pains to ensure that the animals entrusted to our care have as stress-free a journey as possible, naturally in line with all animal transport regulations. Alongside state-of-the-art horse stalls, and seats for the grooms on board our freighters, we also ensure that the distance to the aircraft from the airport animal facility, as well as the waiting times are as short as possible.”
More horses, different airline
Etihad Cargo also saw a large horse shipment recently. Together with the world’s leading equine air transport specialist, Intradco Global, it managed a cargo of 75 thoroughbred horses travelling from Shannon Airport (SNN), Ireland to Shanghai Pudong Airport (PVG), China, on behalf of BBA Ireland, and on board of a Boeing 777-200 freighter. Given the critical Covid-19 situation and stringent regulations, this project required particular organization to ensure smooth operations not only for the horses, but also the accompanying British and Chinese grooms. A total of 25 specialist air stalls were deployed and a vet was on call 24/7 throughout the operation. Sara Havers, Equine Cargo Account Manager at Intradco Global, summarized: “Restrictions pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the task of transporting 75 horses in one charter, made this a challenging operation. However, our attention to detail and our long experience in flying horses, combined with our teamwork with Etihad Cargo made this transport a success. The arrival of these thoroughbred horses in China will help develop the quality of their market, and we are delighted to have further enhanced an already strong working relationship with the client”.
Born free once more…
Just weeks after announcing its “Forever Home” not-for-profit transportation initiative similar to Qatar Airways Cargo’s WeQare “ReWild the Planet” offer, Etihad Cargo published details of its first free rescue flight. Together with Panthera Africa (South Africa), Born Free Foundation (South Africa), and Natuurhulpcentrum (Belgium), four Servals called Kinrooi, Mechelen, Roeselare, and Diepenbeek, were uplifted on 13MAR22 from Brussels, Belgium to Cape Town, South Africa. All Belgium-based services were provided free of charge by Zoo Air and FG Customs. The wildcats had been illegally kept as pets in Belgium before they were rescued and taken into temporary custody by the Belgian wildlife rescue organization, Natuurhulpcentrum, who then found a new home for them in the Born Free Rescue Section at Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa. Born Free funded four new purpose-built enclosures and the Panthera Africa Team set to work building them.
…finally, after waiting two years
Lizaene Cornwall-Nyquist, co-founder of Panthera Africa, said, “We have been waiting for the servals’ arrival for nearly two years and the global pandemic has kept us from relocating these beautiful cats to our sanctuary. [The] first servals [to join] our pride. […] We are so proud of the servals and how they, after a long journey, gently walked out of their crates into their night-houses, immediately took their first meal and a drink of water, and soon after confidently and curiously started to explore their large enclosures. This is the biggest space they have ever been in, so we are amazed by their confidence and trust already on the first day. We are very much looking forward to getting to know their individual personalities, and for them to fully settle in and form part of the Panthera Africa pride. We are so grateful to be able to give them a new chance at life, which is made possible through the wonderful cooperation with Born Free Foundation, Etihad Cargo and Natuurhulpcentrum. Today is a day of great celebration and achievement for all – both two and four-legged ones!”
And now for something completely different…
There are live animals and then there are… dinosaurs. Not travelling by air this time, but road feeder, this unique project was carried out by the UK air cargo freight forwarder, Freight Minds. It had this to say on LinkedIn about its unusual cargo convoy: “We are excited to have handled the dinosaur collection 🦖 from Whipsnade Zoo after the Summer 2021 exhibition. We gave them a new home at our warehouse, where they hibernated over the winter, and then delivered them to their new temporary home at Edinburgh Zoo.
We can confirm no one was eaten alive during the handling of these dinosaurs.”
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