NBA Cares, the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) global social responsibility program, and international conservation organization WildAid are launching a multimedia campaign in China to help reduce the demand for endangered wildlife products. The campaign will feature NBA stars, including Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers and Tyson Chandler of the New York Knicks, in 30-second messages for television and social media. The broadcast messages will also include wildlife footage from WildAid’s library and clips graciously donated by National Geographic filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert.
The campaign is part of WildAid’s “when the buying stops, the killing can too” program led by former NBA star Yao Ming, Jackie Chan, and other international icons; attributed with drastically reducing shark fin soup consumption in China.
“Many consumers of endangered wildlife products in Asia are unaware that their demand fuels the current poaching crisis for elephants and rhinos,” said Peter Knights, WildAid Executive Director. “According to our surveys, only 1 in 3 Chinese residents thought that elephants are killed for their tusks and 2 out of 3 were not aware that rhino horn comes from poached rhinos. However, the vast majority is sympathetic to endangered wildlife; 94% want a ban on ivory trade and 95% want the government to do more to prevent rhino horn use. So it’s a matter of awareness.”
The campaign launch coincides with worsening news from Africa. An estimated 25,000 elephants are killed annually, most recently more than 90 through the use of cyanide. There is also a staggering growth in the number of poached rhinos, currently outpacing all previous records with over 800 killed this year alone in South Africa compared to 668 in 2012.
China’s State and National Forestry Departments recently launched a campaign to stop the demand of ivory and rhino horn among its residents traveling abroad. Through SMS alerts, tourists are urged to “not poach, take, or use wildlife or plants to sell, carry, or mail, especially ivory, rhino horn, and other products derived from endangered animals.”
“This puts the issue front and center for those travelers who may be offered these products,” Knights added. “We applaud the Chinese Government for this pro active stance to preserve endangered wildlife.”