Two massive Emirates A380 jets will take to the skies this week, wearing special livery in support of United for Wildlife, a global collaboration that unites the efforts of the world’s leading wildlife charities in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade.
The livery, featuring some of the planet’s wildlife threatened by poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, is aimed at raising awareness of the illegal wildlife trade and communicate the need for urgent action.
In a press release, The Rt Hon The Lord Hague of Richmond, Chair of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, said: "We welcome the efforts and commitment made by Emirates airline to combat the illegal wildlife trade.
“This is more than just an environmental issue. The illegal wildlife trade is now recognized as a serious and organised transnational crime.
“It drives corruption, is linked to money laundering and can damage economic development in many of the world’s poorest countries and communities. It will take a concerted effort, involving not only effective deterrents against poaching and smuggling, and vigilance in policing and punishing these crimes, but also efforts to increase consumer education to cut demand to protect these animals for the future. "
Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said: "Many animals, in particular African elephants, rhinos, tigers, and pangolins, are under extreme pressure because of an unprecedented spike in the illegal wildlife trade.
“The world is in a global poaching crisis, and everyone has to do their part to stop this, before it is too late. Emirates believes that the global transport industry, including airlines, can play a significant role to break the supply chain of illegal wildlife trade. And at Emirates, we are committing the resources to do our part."
Consumers too, can contribute in a big way, by boycotting products made from the parts of these endangered animals and discouraging others from doing so.
Emirates’ two A380s will initially operate flights to London (LHR) on 2nd November and to Mauritius (MRU) on 5th November each wearing a different design featuring endangered wildlife.
The decal on the first flight will feature six endangered species, while the second flight will feature a decal with rhinos and elephants. Both designs cover the world’s largest passenger aircraft almost from nose to tail, spreading over the wings and under-belly of the plane. Approximately 40 per cent of the surface area of the A380 will be covered by the decal. The larger of the two designs span over 42.5 metres in length and 6.2 metres in width, and weighs 70kg.
Entirely designed, produced, and applied by Emirates’ in-house staff, both of these are the largest decals the airline has put on any aircraft, to date and took a team of 28 people 2.5 days to apply the decals on one A380, or approximately 900 man hours per aircraft.
In addition to its two A380s literally "flying" the flag for the cause, Emirates will run regular feature stories about wildlife protection in its inflight magazines, and showcase podcast interviews, wildlife programming and feature films on its award-winning ice inflight entertainment system.
The airline is also collaborating with international organisations to train and better equip its ground and cargo staff to detect and deal with illegal wildlife products in transit. As the required paperwork for movement of some wildlife products is often forged, Emirates also made the decision to ban trophy shipments.