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Hong Kong ivory ban receives widespread support

Hong Kong's Legislative Council Panel on Environmental Affairs will hear public comments Tuesday on government plans to ban the trade in elephant ivory products.

In advance of the public hearing, the council received about 275 letters in support of the ban from Hong Kong residents and other interested individuals from as far away as South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

Representatives from around 20 conservation groups, including WildAid, will address the council in favor of ending the ivory trade in Hong Kong. Mainland China is in the process of closing all its ivory carving factories and retail shops by the end of 2017.

Martial Arts Actor Tony Jaa Leads New 'Ivory Free' Thailand Campaign

 WildAid and WWF-Thailand representatives with Tony Jaa (center) at the June 13 launch in Bangkok

BANGKOK (14 June 2016) — International martial arts actor Tony Jaa (Furious 7Ong-Bak 3) and Thai National Football Team Coach Zico” Kiatisuk Senamuang will lead an all-star team of celebrity ambassadors calling for an end to Thailand’s ivory trade, one of the world’s largest. 

The new campaign, created by WildAid and WWF-Thailand and launched Monday, highlights the impact of the Thai ivory trade on elephant poaching in Africa, where an estimated 33,000 elephants are killed each year for their tusks. Public service announcements and print billboards will be widely distributed throughout the country, from BTS SkyTrain stations in Bangkok to several national TV channels and multiple social media platforms. WATCH: Tony Jaa’s new PSA for WildAid and WWF-ThailandThis PSA was produced by WildAid with the support of WWF, African Wildlife Foundation and Save the Elephants. 

The ivory trade has been banned in the United States, and proposed bans in China and Hong Kong are in motion, leaving Thailand alongside Japan as the largest remaining markets. Thailand also plays a key role as a transit point for smuggled ivory: Current Thai law allows trading of ivory from domesticated Thai elephants, but conservationists are concerned that illegal African ivory is laundered through this loophole.  

Thailand made several major illegal ivory seizures last year: Since October 2015, Thai customs has made four seizures of ivory originating from Africa, totaling more than 800 kilograms. The latest seizure in April 2016 was more than 300 kilograms. 

“With historic announcements from the US, China and Hong Kong to shut down their ivory markets, the time has come for Thailand to join the herd and do its part to save Africa’s elephants,” said WildAid CEO Peter Knights.

U.S. Will Partner with Vietnam to Fight Illegal Wildlife Trade

As President Barack Obama visits Vietnam this week, the U.S. State Department has announced a five-year bilateral partnership to combat wildlife trafficking – a significant issue in both nations that affects many imperiled species.

From the announcement via State.gov: