Last night, Team WildAid was beyond proud to celebrate our international ambassadors in Los Angeles, as we work together to end the illicit trade in ivory, rhino horn and other wildlife products that are driving a global poaching crisis.
The event, hosted by the Montage Beverly Hills, raised over $2.5 million to support WildAid’s programs throughout the world. In only a few short months, we’ve expanded our mission to include programs in Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and Thailand, in addition to our established work in countries such as China and Vietnam. The support of WildAid donors is vital to our work; thank you so much!
We also had the privilege of awarding actress Maggie Q with our 2015 Wildlife Champion Award. A WildAid ambassador since 2012, Maggie stars in the “Ivory Free” campaign, urging consumers not to buy ivory products, as well as the “I’m FINished with Fins” campaign against shark fin soup. She has filmed several PSAs, and has participated in multiple photo shoots and media interviews to help raise awareness of the plight of animals around the world.
Joining Maggie at Saturday’s gala were Fergie & Josh Duhamel, Paula Abdul, Chevy & Jayni Chase, Tanzanian music artist Alikiba, Kristin Bauer, Michael Cudlitz, Bo Derek & John Corbett, Junior Nyong’o, Amy Tan and many, many more devoted WildAid supporters.
HONG KONG (23 October 2015) —Hong Kong’s “legal” ivory market is willfully obstructing newly announced efforts by China and the United States to end ivory sales, at a time when thousands of African elephants are dying at the hands of poachers, according to a new report released by WildAid and African Wildlife Foundation with accompanying undercover footage provided to the organizations.
While China and the US have recently pledged landmark commitments to halt the ivory trade, the Hong Kong government has resisted such a move. Officials from Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) continue to insist “the Hong Kong government has strict control mechanism in place over sale of ivory” and is comparable to other nations. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Over several months, investigators uncovered overwhelming evidence of ivory traders flouting licensing regulations with impunity, coaching tourists on how to smuggle purchased ivory, and routinely replenishing legally held ivory stocks with illegal ivory laundered into Hong Kong from recently poached African elephants. Click here to download the full report.
WildAid and African Wildlife Foundation call on the Hong Kong government to ban ivory sales, and to conduct an independent inquiry to address longstanding regulatory loopholes and illegal smuggling.
With the United States and China making public commitments to halt the ivory trade, pressure is mounting fast for Hong Kong to do the same.
Due to its high overall trade volumes, easy access to mainland China, and lax regulation and supervision, Hong Kong is a global hub for the ivory trade. Licensed vendors can legally sell ivory obtained prior to the 1989 international ban on the commercial ivory trade. But the "legal" market is replenshing its original stock with ivory from recently poached elephants.
Two hard-hitting reports out Wednesday uncover this illicit trade that is fuelling the elephant poaching epidemic in Africa. The Washington Post reports that while American and Chinese pledges to enact near-complete bans is historic, the "spotlight is turning to Hong Kong."
In a historic address to the Chinese people, the Duke of Cambridge (Prince William) has urged China "to turn the tide of extinction" and reject the illegal wildlife trade that's driving the slaughter of endangered species.
"I am absolutely convinced that China can become a global leader in the protection of wildlife," Prince William said Monday in remarks to be broadcast on Chinese state TV channel CCTV1. "Your influence in the world means you can change the face of conservation in this century. This will be a contribution that would go down in history, one that your great grandchildren would speak of with great pride."
The address coincides with this week's official state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will be a guest of Buckingham Palace for four days. "[W]e have seen a groundswell of action by governments to improve their laws and to work across borders to fight the traffickers," Prince William said. "Only last month, President Xi announced that China would take steps to halt the domestic trade in ivory, adding to the ban on ivory carving imports he announced in February. But we know the illegal wildlife trade cannot be solved by governments alone. The spotlight falls back on all of us, and on the choices we have to make to play our parts in addressing this problem."
Poachers in Zimbabwe have killed at least 40 elephants in recent weeks using a particularly cruel and efficient method: cyanide poisoning.
The Washington Post reports that poachers have used industrial-grade cyanide to poison watering holes and salt licks favored by elephants in Hwange National Park, a Connecticut-sized reserve located on the border with Botswana. Cyancide-laced oranges have also been used, and species not targeted by poachers were among the victims.
Park rangers found the carcasses of 26 elephants on Tuesday, a week after 14 other animals were found poisoned. No arrests have been made in the case.
“Any person with wildlife at heart would be worried about the method with which these poachers are killing wildlife,” Caroline Washaya-Moyo, a spokeswoman for Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, said in an interview with the Post.