DHL reveals strangest delivery requests in Africa

dhl-logoIn today’s competitive global environment, the use of logistics companies to courier items between countries within set time parameters is becoming increasingly necessary. Throughout Africa, the capabilities of logistics companies have also evolved exponentially over the past 20 years and it is today increasingly common to see ‘packages’ such as live animals, specially prepared food or lifesaving medicines being transported across the continent.

Looking back on the past year, Sumesh Rahavendra, Head of Marketing for DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa (, says that the increase in requests to transport various endangered animals was particularly noteworthy, as well as some unique personal client requests.

A particularly unusual personal request came from Nigeria, whereby a client also paid the airfare of an onboard courier to travel with a birthday cake from Abuja to Lagos; the airfare price of which was about three times the value of the cake. The client put a significant premium on the need to have the cake delivered at a particular period of the day and was prepared to pay for it.

During 2012 an entire prepared five-course dinner for eight people for a function in Zimbabwe was transported. This was due to certain foods not being available in the country.

The company also regularly transports various types of medical materials, using specialized products and processes to ensure their viability.

“Increasingly, we see the need for cross-border and continental transportation of items like rare tissue samples, urgent medical equipment or organs,” says Rahavendra. We have dedicated people who manage these types of shipments – whether it’s ensuring a heart is transported from Europe to Kenya for an urgent transplant, a part for an important medical scanner is rushed across the world to fix that machine or, as I personally saw recently, some tissue samples were carried from South Africa to the USA for an operation to save a little boy named Juan with a rare degenerative disease.”

Rahavendra also explained: “A highlight in 2012 was moving three endangered Black Rhinos from the UK to the Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania. The 10-hour journey from Manston, UK airport to Tanzania included a refuelling stop in Italy and took place aboard a specially outfitted Boeing 757. Special accommodation included specialised life-saving devices and temperature-controlled conditions in the cabin, and the transport team included two rhino keepers, two aircraft engineers and a specialist veterinarian. “It’s very special that we can use our core capability of logistics to support such valuable conservation efforts,” says Rahavendra.

On a global front, DHL also recently delivered two Sumatran tigers, one from the USA and one from Australia, to take part in an international breeding program. With fewer than 300 Sumatran tigers now in the wild, ZSL London Zoo is hoping to breed the tigers as part of a wider conservation support program and enlisted the help of DHL Express to transport the tigers.

He explains that although the company has fulfilled many strange delivery requests and transports everything from lions to livers, there are certain restrictions when it comes to global express. “We work with customs and authorities in over 220 countries worldwide and each of these have different regulations around the products you can import and export, and restrictions around certain items,” he says. “This means we can’t courier everything ‘at all costs’ and have restrictions on items like jewellery, precious metals, firearms and ammunition, as well as specific embargoes on products in certain countries.”

These restrictions are also in place to protect the company’s network, and general civilians. “We move hundreds of millions of packages every year and, with this, comes a need for incredibly tight security. While we use our own dedicated network of 250 aircraft and over 30, 000 vehicles to move shipments, we also sometimes make use of commercial airlines which carry passengers. Outside of ensuring our own operational network is safe through scans, physical checks, cameras, security personnel and the myriad of other measures we take every day, we are also responsible for the wellbeing of our customers and general consumers, and we take this responsibility incredibly seriously.”


Source: APO – Press Release – 23 April 2013