Emirates has gone wild: two of the airline’s A380 fleet have received a makeover for a cause, getting kitted out with a livery featuring ivory to highlight the problem of animal trafficking.

The planes have been adorned with an array of endangered and threatened animals as part of Emirates’ partnership with United for Wildlife, a non-profit organisation comprised of seven international conservation groups that seeks to combat the illegal wildlife trade. One of the planes’ new uniforms consists of six endangered species – there are tigers, lions, gorillas, rhinos, bears and elephants on show.

With the transport industry playing a significant part in the supply chain of illegal animal trade, Emirates has partnered up with organisations in order to better equip their cargo and ground staff with the knowledge to detect and deal with illegal wildlife products in transit.

Project Director of United for Wildlife Dr. Naomi Doak said of the initiative: “The transport industry is unwittingly supporting the movement of illegal wildlife goods, so it’s important that they become the eyes and ears on the ground.”

With the ownership of luxury and exotic animals quite prevalent in Dubai, Dr. Doak believes that the move from Emirates will help to tackle the illegal trade of exotic animals both globally and in the region. So while it might be kind of cool to see a chimp hanging out of a car window down at JBR, you’ve got to remember how that little guy probably got there.


1. The value of illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be around anywhere from Dhs183-550 billion per year.

2. Between 35-000 to 50,000 African elephants are poached each year. If this doesn’t stop, the African elephant will be extinct in less than 10 years.

3. There are approximately 3,000 tigers left in the wild. There are an estimated 5,000 tigers being kept as pets in the U.S. alone.

4. Around 30 percent of the Asian elephant population is in captivity.

5. 95% of the world’s rhinos have been lost in the last 40 years, with an estimated 3 rhinos poached each day.

Alongside the new plane design, Emirates will also be running wildlife protection stories in its inflight magazines, and providing the option for flyers to watch or listen to wildlife related podcasts and movies as part of their inflight entertainment.

– Old Dubai police vehicles used to make artificial reef
– Dubai Butterfly Garden
– PICTURES: Wildlife at Al Qudra Lakes


Rt Hon The Lord Hague of Richmond, Chair of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce (what a title), has said in a press release: “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 recognised as a serious and organised transnational crime.”

The President of Emirates Airlines, Sir Tim Clark has said: “The world is in a global poaching crisis, and everyone has to do their part to stop this before it’s too late. Emirates believe 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’re committing the resources to do on our part.

Senior Adviser for Emirates Wildlife Society Lisa Perry has mentioned how illegal wildlife trade is one of the leading threats to wildlife survival, second to the loss of habitat. With many travellers unknowingly transporting illegal goods, she believes awareness is a key aspect in addressing the problem.