Bo Derek in Kelowna for WildAid
Actress and model Bo Derek was in Kelowna this weekend promoting her work with conservation organization WildAid.
The star studded organization believes celebrities are often more effective at raising awareness than government organizations alone.
A recent public service announcement against shark-fin soup in China starring actor Jackie Chan and basketball player Yao Ming reached over one billion viewers, says Derek.
"I think in China, if Jackie Chan or Yao Ming say, 'this is not good anymore, this is not right,' they'll have more effect than any government regulations or laws," says Derek.
Derek says San Fransisco based WildAid has pinpointed the most effective means of stopping illegal wildlife trade.
"Habitat is a problem and poaching is a problem, but you can solve the problem very quickly if people stop consuming. The results are immediate. It is about public education and awareness."
Six WildAid board members, including executive director Pete Knights met in Kelowna at the invitation of another board member, Kelowna resident Charles Fipke.
Fipke, the millionaire who discovered diamonds the Northwest Territories, is the founding Canadian board member and a financial donor for WildAid.
With Fipke's financial help, 12 high profile public service announcements will air in Canada urging Canadians to, among other things, put an end to bear poaching.
Bear gallbladder is used in traditional Chinese medicine and paws are considered a delicacy.
Not all poached Canadian bear products end up overseas, says Knights. Knights, who helped authorities take down six traditional Asian market stores in Vancouver, says poached bear products are even in demand within British Columbia.
"Some of the product will stay here, in the Asian market," says Knights.
But Knights says Canadians are still most susceptible to encountering endangered or poached items outside of Canada. "The time when Canadians are most likely to consume endangered species is when they go on vacation."