How Emi­rates took the cam­paign against il­le­gal wildlife trade to a higher level


The pres­i­dent of Emi­rates has told an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence about its highly suc­cess­ful cam­paign against wildlife traf­fick­ing.

As an in­ter­na­tional push to clamp down on the il­le­gal wildlife trade moved into high gear in March 2015, Emi­rates ex­ec­u­tives met in Dubai to set­tle the de­tails of how the air­line could play a sig­nif­i­cant part.

“Per­son­ally, I was not aware of the scale and enor­mity of the prob­lem that we as hu­man­ity face,” Sir Tim Clark, pres­i­dent of Emi­rates, told The Na­tional. “At that meet­ing I be­gan to re­alise that com­pa­nies such as Emi­rates needed to do a lot more than it had.

“We de­cided we could lever­age the global brand power that Emi­rates has. We carry 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple a week and re­alised we had a per­fect op­por­tu­nity to reach out to those peo­ple and make them aware of what was go­ing on.”

Mar­ket­ing cam­paigns were con­ceived, which in­cluded em­bla­zon­ing im­ages of en­dan­gered species on Emi­rates air­craft in sup­port of the global col­lab­o­ra­tion, United for Wildlife.

Pic­tures of an­i­mals in­clud­ing tigers, li­ons, go­ril­las and ele­phants ap­peared on A380s. The air­line also banned the trans­port of an­i­mal tro­phies.

Chan­nels on the in-flight en­ter­tain­ment were ded­i­cated to ex­plain­ing the ex­tent of the il­le­gal wildlife trade and its dev­as­tat­ing im­pact.

“It was im­por­tant we got the mes­sage across and that res­onated well,” Mr Clark said. He was speak­ing at the Il­le­gal Wildlife Trade Con­fer­ence in Lon­don, which brought to­gether rep­re­sen­ta­tives from more than 80 coun­tries, non-govern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions and busi­ness lead­ers.

The push by Emi­rates has not fo­cused solely on cus­tomers. Lo­cal em­ploy­ees, par­tic­u­larly those work­ing in cargo, were also cru­cial to the cam­paign.

A com­pany por­tal was set up al­low­ing work­ers to leave tipoffs about il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity with some anonymity. The com­pli­ance unit worked more closely with se­cu­rity staff, who forged stronger links with global peers.

“In that re­spect we’ve cer­tainly im­proved our pro­cesses, de­tec­tion and en­force­ment,” Mr Clark said.

Lord Hague, the for­mer UK for­eign min­is­ter and the chair­man of the United for Wildlife Trans­port Task­force, said: “Emi­rates is a re­ally clear ex­am­ple of what can be done via com­mu­ni­ca­tion with staff and cus­tomers.”

Emi­rates is a sig­na­tory to the 2016 Buck­ing­ham Palace Dec­la­ra­tion, which con­tains 11 com­mit­ments to raise stan­dards across the trans­port in­dus­try and fo­cuses on shar­ing in­for­ma­tion, staff train­ing, tech­no­log­i­cal im­prove­ments and shar­ing re­sources with or­gan­i­sa­tions to stop the il­le­gal an­i­mal trade.

Also party to the agree­ment are Dubai Cus­toms and Ports, and Eti­had Air­ways.

“When we get to­gether as a global ecosys­tem of like-minded busi­nesses we have enor­mous po­ten­tial and power to take our­selves into the il­le­gal wildlife trade,” Mr Clark said.

“I re­main op­ti­mistic that the zero tol­er­ance we signed up to [in 2016] is the way for­ward. The whole sub­ject is now el­e­vated to a global plat­form.”

We de­cided we could lever­age the global brand power that Emi­rates has SIR TIM CLARK Pres­i­dent of Emi­rates air­line

Pho­tos Emi­rates

Sir Tim Clark said he was shocked by the scale of the il­le­gal wildlife trade and vowed to fight it

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