WildAid is an organization whose aim is to end the illegal wildlife trade by reducing demand through celebrity-endorsed public awareness campaigns. Their message is simple:
“When the buying stops, the killing can too.”
Today in London, the Duke of Cambridge, David Beckham and Yao Ming teamed up to film two public service messages about products made from illegal rhino horn and ivory. The campaign is a collaboration between WildAid and the Royal Foundation’s United for Wildlife.
The ivory trade is responsible for the deaths of approximately 25,000 African elephants each year. According to South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs, at least 618 rhinos were killed for their horns in the first eight months of 2013 alone. That means every two days, five rhinos are brutally killed for their horns. Sadly, that figure is well on pace to break last year’s record of 668 poached rhinos by the end of the month.
The Duke of Cambridge said, “At the root of the illegal wildlife trade is the demand for products that require the deaths of tens of thousands of these animals every year, pushing them further towards extinction.”
Meanwhile, demand for rhino horn is rising due to booming economies in Vietnam and China. In 2009, China initiated a one-time legal sale of ivory that has stimulated a renewal in the market. Recent surveys show that a large portion of China’s population is unaware of the death toll to create ivory products.
“When I learned of the current poaching levels in Africa, I immediately agreed to help get this message out,” said former soccer star David Beckham. “It is shocking to think that we could lose these animals from the wild in our lifetimes.”
Former NBA player Yao Ming said, “We must reduce demand if we are going to save these animals. We made tremendous progress reducing demand for shark fin soup through a similar campaign and a government ban at banquets is also helping. Traders say shark fin demand has been cut by 50% or more. I hope we can do the same for ivory and rhino horn.”
Yao is heavily involved with WildAid. He led the shark fin initiative and launched the Say No to Ivory and Rhino Horn campaign earlier this year in partnership with WildAid, African Wildlife Foundation, and Save the Elephants. He is currently filming “The End of the Wild”, a documentary coming out next year.
“The Duke of Cambridge and David Beckham are both highly respected in Asia, where the word needs to go out,” said WildAid Executive Director, Peter Knights. “Bringing them together with Yao underlines the need for a global effort to end demand for these products and support conservation efforts on the ground. This trade not only threatens these iconic animals with ruthless slaughter, it undermines African economies and tourism revenues while fueling corruption and funding organized crime and even terrorist activity.”
WildAid works with hundreds of celebrities and business leaders around the world, including Jackie Chan, Leonardo DiCaprio and Richard Branson, just to name a few.
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