Shanghai, April 21, 2023 – On the eve of Earth Day, WildAid and China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) jointly launched a new series of public service announcements (PSAs) titled, “Bring Home Memories Not Regrets”. In this three-episode PSA series, popular Chinese actress Yang Zi informs outbound travelers that purchasing wildlife products is driving vulnerable species toward extinction and reminds them that it is illegal to bring ivory into China, even as souvenirs.
The number of elephants in the wild has declined sharply since the 1970s due to habitat loss, illegal ivory trade, and human-elephant conflicts. Both Asian and African elephants are now listed as endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) prohibits commercial international trade in ivory.
In order to strengthen the protection of elephants and comply with CITES, China has banned domestic commercial processing and trade of ivory since December 31, 2017. Thanks to the ban and China Customs’ anti-smuggling operations, there has been a clear decline in illegal sales and smuggling of ivory on the mainland. However, there is still a small amount of ivory that flows into the country through travelers. According to China Customs, most of the recent seized ivory brought into the country has been due to travelers’ insufficient understanding of international conventions and domestic laws. (Of course, there was also a fair amount of concealed ivory brought into the country by individuals who knew that it was prohibited.) Since outbound travel for Chinese citizens has restarted in February, the risk of tourists buying ivory and bringing it back to China has increased.
“As outbound travel is heating up now, WildAid has partnered with several tourism and media companies to distribute PSAs to enhance the public’s awareness. Together we are forming a force to implement the ivory ban and continuous crackdown on endangered wildlife smuggling, reducing the flow of ivory into the country,” said Chong Yu, Chief Representative of WildAid China.
With a conservation through communication approach, WildAid has been working to reduce both the demand for and the illegal trade of endangered wildlife for over 20 years. After the ivory ban, WildAid launched several public awareness campaigns to remind the people not to break the law, such as “Ivory Is No Longer a Commercial Item,” “More Beautiful as a Tusk Than a Souvenir” and “Souvenirs Could Be Contraband.” In 2021, WildAid cooperated with Airbnb to launch the “Initiative on Sustainable Travel”, calling on tourists and Airbnb hosts and guests to reject illegal wildlife trade and other unsustainable behaviors.
In “Bring Home Memories, Not Regret,” Yang Zi plays three different roles: tourist, tour leader, and safari guide for children. In each role, she expresses that both tourists and those in the tourism industry should refuse to buy, sell and bring ivory into the country, and that each of us has the responsibility to spread this message. “Saying ‘No’ is a kind of wisdom because it will avoid unnecessary troubles and let us bring home memories, not regrets,” said Yang Zi.
The new public awareness campaign will be featured during China’s holiday seasons throughout airports, train stations, subways, shopping malls, hotels, and cinemas in Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Xiamen, Nanjing, Kunming, Haikou, Nanning, Shenzhen, and Zhuhai, as well as the newly opened China-Laos high speed trains.
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WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect wildlife from illegal trade and other imminent threats. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $308 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too.
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