Thu | Aug 17, 2017

JetBlue, US agencies seek to save Caribbean wildlife

Published:Monday | November 21, 2016 | 11:00 AM
In this August 16, 2008 file photo, a parrotfish is shown swimming over a dead coral reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary near Key West, Florida. Colourful parrotfish and spindly sea urchins are the key to saving the Caribbean's coral reefs, which may disappear in two decades if no action is taken, a report by several international organisations said in 2014.

JetBlue, the United States (US) Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Wildlife Trafficking Alliance are seeking to educate travellers about how to "buy informed" and travel smart to the Caribbean.

As part of the partnership, JetBlue has begun airing a short film on all flights informing customers of the role they play in protecting Caribbean wildlife and preserving the region's beauty.

The video, featuring local Caribbean conservation heroes, aims at arming travellers with the right questions to ask when purchasing wildlife and plant-related products.

According to JetBlue, an increased interest in Caribbean wildlife has been fuelling trafficking of the area's plants, animals and other natural resources, contributing to the decline and potential extinction of animal species such as sea turtles, blue and gold macaws, and coral reefs.

The Caribbean's island geography makes it a highly biodiverse region. It is home to approximately 6,500 plant, 150 bird, 470 reptile, 40 mammal, 170 amphibian and 65 fish species not found anywhere else in the world.

The global wildlife trafficking crisis threatens many of these species, which are used, often illegally, as pets, medicine, food, jewellery, clothing, souvenirs and household decorations.

For example, sea turtles are used for food, jewellery and items such as combs; birds are taken from the wild and sold as pets or their feathers incorporated into souvenirs; unique reptiles are sold as exotic pets and used for clothing; and coral is taken for use in jewellery and decor.