Wild champions

“What can I do about it? Who will listen to me?” You CAN make a difference and add you voice to halting the illegal wildlife trade. You won’t be alone – several international stars are determined to protect endangered wildlife, using their celebrity to convey an important message to the world. So keep talking about the issue; you’re not alone, and you’re in good company.

Two-time African Footballer of the Year, Yaya Touré isn’t just one of the world’s most inspirational footballers, he’s also an outspoken advocate of the protection of African elephants. “They’re being driven close to extinction by systematic poaching for the illegal ivory trade which has tripled since 1998,” says Touré, “My national team, Côte d’Ivoire’s Elephants, is named after these magnificent beasts. But there may be only 800 left in my country”.

Touré recently became UNEP’s Goodwill Ambassadors on behalf of African elephants, saying “poaching – and other forms of wildlife crime – is not just a betrayal of our responsibility to safeguard threatened species, but a serious threat to the security, political stability, economy, natural resources and cultural heritage of many countries”.

Hong Kong kung-fu megastar Jackie Chan has joined the fight in Asia. He’s championing a documentary exposing the illegal slaughter of elephants, Gambling on Extinction (http://gamblingonextinction.net), which follows the journey of illegal ivory, taking viewers across Africa and Southeast Asia. It sheds light on the major players driving the wildlife trade, as well as those working to stop it. Chan is appealing to his fan base across Asia, saying: “it’s just not true that ivory jewellery and carvings are made from tusks that have fallen off the elephant or from elephants that have died of natural causes. Elephants are being hunted and killed for their tusks. The only way to stop the slaughter is to cut demand. We are all consumers, so we all can make a difference”.

Meanwhile, iconic footballer David Beckham has joined NBA superstar Yao Ming (also a UNEP Goodwill Ambassador) to help the United Kingdom’s Prince William campaign to halt wildlife poaching, particularly of elephants, rhinos and sharks. The rather unlikely looking trio – well, just take a look at them – have recorded a series of public service announcements, reaching out particularly to audiences in Viet Nam and China, encouraging viewers to stop the demand for illegally traded wildlife products. The trio is working to make consumers in Asia aware of the heavy environmental toll taken by ivory and rhino horn traffickers.

“I’m sure consumers will change their behaviour when they know the facts,” said Yao Ming, who has also led the charge to reduce the consumption of sharks’ fin. “Our campaign and a government ban are helping reduce shark fin being served at banquets in China. We can do the same for ivory and rhino horn.”

“I urge you to help bring these senseless killings to an end,” added David Beckham. “We can all do our part by sharing this message with buyers of illegal wildlife products.”

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