Today marks the inauguration of World Wildlife Day, established by the UN General Assembly to celebrate the natural world, increase awareness of the value of conservation, and to fight wildlife crimes. Dr. Iain Douglas Hamilton, 2010 recipient of the Indianapolis Prize and founder of Save the Elephants, celebrates the occasion by noting that awareness and concern about the global demand for elephant ivory is gaining significant momentum. One major example is the recent U.S. ban on the import and export of ivory, a significant victory for elephant conservation. In addition, the destruction of confiscated ivory around the world continues to send a clear message that the killing of elephants for their tusks must end.
Despite this encouraging news, China continues to consume ivory at an alarming and completely unsustainable rate.
As reported in a front page article in the Southern Weekend, China’s largest weekend-selling newspaper, “In recent news on November 5, 2013, Xiamen Customs announced the largest ivory smuggling cases uncovered in recent years, two cases of which ivory added up to 11.88 tons, worth 603 million yuan. If it hadn’t been seized, the ivory from Africa would have infiltrated China ‘s secretive “black market”, to be eventually sold into private collections.”
Dr. Iain Douglas Hamilton states it plainly, “We’re still hoping for the ultimate prize: for China to exercise joint leadership with the USA and shut down her domestic ivory markets.”
That won’t happen without a major shift in Chinese public opinion. Surveys indicate that most Chinese people don’t understand that ivory is the result of elephant poaching.
To counter that misperception, Save the Elephants is partnering with Li Bingbing, one of China’s most famous actresses and singers, and a UNEP Goodwill Ambassador.
In a powerful mini-documentary, she simply tells the story facing elephants across Africa today. Her message is simple:
Stop the Buying. Stop the Dying. Say No to ivory.