DUBAI // A campaign to battle the illegal trade in ivory has been launched at Dubai International Airport.
Advertisements warning passengers that ivory smuggling leads to prosecution are being shown on video screens.
The trade causes the deaths of tens of thousands of elephants every year.
The campaign is being run jointly by the airport security department of Dubai Police and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw).
"Dubai Police are committed to fighting any ivory-trade activity, which runs counter to the principles of endangered species preservation," said Brig Ahmad Mohammad bin Thani, director of the department.
Ivory is smuggled through the UAE in raw form and as carved trinkets.
Last November Dubai Customs seized a haul worth Dh15 million that was being brought into the country at Jebel Ali Port.
The 215 tusks came from 108 African elephants and were hidden in 40 boxes containing beans.
In May last year, 350 tusks weighing a total of 1.5 tonnes were seized at Colombo in Sri Lanka. The consignment had arrived from Kenya and was en route to Dubai.
Ifaw estimates up to 50,000 elephants are slaughtered each year by poachers to meet the soaring demand for ivory.
Last year 600 were killed in Cameroon's Bouba Ndjida national park in just six weeks.
The organisation says some populations in west and central Africa are facing extinction because of highly organised, large-scale poaching.
Much of the illegally traded ivory ends up in China where the economic boom has fuelled demand and carved products made from the material are highly prized.
Thailand, Japan, Europe and the US are also implicated in the trade.
"Ifaw has revealed widespread abuse of China's ivory control mechanism. Large amounts of illegal ivory are available for sale in shops, factories and online," said Azzedine Downes, Ifaw's global president and chief executive.
"The increasingly difficult to control market, the high-profit, low-risk nature of illegal ivory trading and a growing demand for ivory products in China are key drivers of elephant poaching across Africa."