BANGKOK (14 June 2016) — International martial arts actor Tony Jaa (Furious 7, Ong-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-Thailand. This 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.
WASHINGTON (June 2, 2016) — In a bold effort to save Africa’s elephants, the Obama Administration has released strong, clear rules aimed at effectively shutting down the U.S. ivory market, one of the world’s largest.
Released Thursday, the final Endangered Species Act special rule for the African elephant substantially limits imports, exports and sales of African elephant ivory across state lines, while carving limited exceptions for certain pre-existing manufactured items, such as musical instruments, furniture pieces and firearms that contain less than 200 grams of ivory. The rule was finalized after a lengthy review period that drew 1.3 million public comments overwhelmingly in favor of protecting elephants.
The new rules issued Thursday by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service follow landmark commitments made last fall by President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping to abolish the domestic ivory markets in their respective nations.Hong Kong officials announced in January their intentions to do the same, followed by France, which announced a ban on the ivory trade soon after the historic ivory burn ceremony in Kenya on April 30.
On Saturday, April 30, Kenya Wildlife Service will host the largest ivory burn in history — a bold statement against elephant poaching, and one we hope will mark the beginning of the end for the global ivory trade, which kills an estimated 33,000 elephants every year.
WildAid will be bringing these historic events to a worldwide audience through social media, and we invite you to watch it live.
Our coverage of the event will be carried live via Twitter on Saturday at 3pm in Nairobi (8am in New York), with highlights posted throughout the weekend. In China, WildAid’s Beijing-based team will also be hosting a live mobile stream of The Ivory Burn, as well as projecting a message of support to Kenya onto one of the largest video screens in the world, located in Shanghai’s Bund district.
This month, WildAid rolls out its first ever large scale public awareness campaign in Hong Kong on a fleet of about 80 double decker buses. The faces of Chinese celebrities Yao Ming, Li Bingbing, Lang Lang as well as Thai actor Tony Jaa can currently be seen carrying the ‘Ivory Free’ message to the Hong Kong public. The Kowloon Motor Bus Company buses also urge support for an ivory ban proposed by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
From Ellen DeGeneres to Lupita Nyong'o and Lang Lang, we are blown away by the global support for the #JoinTheHerd campaign to make this the Year of the Elephant, when we put an end to the ivory trade and allow elephant populations to recover.
WildAid's "Ivory Free" message is spreading throughout East and Southeast Asia, and now includes a campaign in Thailand, a primary market for ivory products.
Joining such WildAid ambassadors as Thai martial arts star Tony Jaa are three popular sports stars: Coach "Zico" Kiatisuk Senmamuang of Thailand’s national football team, and rising soccer players "Jay" Chanathip Songkrasin and "Kong" Kroekrit Thaweekarn, who recently came together to film a PSA in Bangkok for the campaign.
HONG KONG — About 50 people marched noisily through the busy streets of Hong Kong's main ivory trading district of Sheung Wan on Saturday, once again calling on the Hong Kong government to ban the city's out-of-control ivory trade. It is the fifth such street protest in just two years.
The latest protest was organized by Sean Lee Davies of Project C:Change and Ted Hodgkinson from Hong Kong's The Elephant Society. The star attraction of the protest, billed by Project C:Change as Hong Kong's first “Maasai March,” was Daniel Ole Sambu, a Maasai warrior from Kenya and Predator Protection Programme Coordinator for Big Life Foundation, a Kenya-based NGO that is fighting illegal poaching and habitat destruction.
As Daniel walked amongst the many stores selling ivory, some possibly poached in his own backyard in Tsavo, Kenya, he appeared visibly shaken. According to the South China Morning Post, Daniel said, “It’s horrible because all I see are dead elephants,” Daniel told the South China Morning Post.
A day earlier, WildAid supporter and Hong Kong lawmaker Elizabeth Quat introduced a measure aimed at stepping up government efforts to combat wildlife crime and to ban the city's ivory trade. If passed by Hong Kong's 70 legislators on Wednesday next week, the measure would make it much more difficult for the Hong Kong government to further drag its feet on the issue, triggering the legislative process towards a domestic ivory sales ban sooner rather than later.
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."
Poaching in Tanzania is threatening to undermine the East African nation’s growing tourism economy, one otherwise poised to add hundreds of thousands of jobs in the coming years.
Adelham Meru, Tanzania’s Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, warns that poaching could affect as many as 3.8 million tourism jobs across Africa, including guides, drivers, and hotel and restaurant staff.
Tanzania, like many African nations, has been hard hit by poaching over the past decade. Last year a survey revealed that the country had lost more than half its elephants, with populations declining from 110,000 in 2009 to fewer than 44,000. Tanzania's iconic giraffes, the country's national symbol, have also suffered, as has much of its other wildlife.
While poachers are profiting from these beloved species, tourism could suffer. Meru said Tanzania has 700,000 tourism-related jobs and predicts that number could double, but only if "the ongoing rampant killings of wildlife" stops. "If the current situation will remain unattended, these jobs would vanish in air," he said[.]