DAR ES SALAAM (18 June 2015) — Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, in association with WildAid and the African Wildlife Foundation, has launched a new public awareness campaign to inform the public about the severe poaching crisis currently facing Tanzania and to generate widespread support among civil society for the protection of elephants and other wildlife species.
The campaign will use television, radio, social media, newspapers and magazines, billboards and videos in public spaces in order to reach as many members of the public as possible, including the residents of remote rural villages.
Tanzania has lost 60% of its elephants in the past six years, mainly because of poaching for ivory. Very large profits from this illegal activity are made in China and other consumer nations, while Tanzanians are left to bear the cost.
Award-winning singer-songwriter Alikiba has become an ambassador for the campaign. “I’m honoured to lend any support that I can to this effort to protect our wildlife,” Alikiba said. “Our beautiful elephants must be allowed to live — free and wild — instead of ending up as a carving on somebody’s coffee table.”
The campaign also features singer Vanessa Mdee, former NBA player Hasheem Thabeet and former Miss Tanzania Jacqueline Mengi. They join a host of international icons including Jackie Chan, Yao Ming, Edward Norton, Prince William and David Beckham, who are featured in the “Ivory Free” and “When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too” campaigns.
Religious leaders representing an interfaith coalition — including Muslims, Catholics, Evangelicals and other Christian denominations — also recorded messages and offered their support: “We don’t always agree on everything, but we all agree that poaching and the smuggling of ivory is completely wrong,” the leaders said in a PSA.
“Elephants are at the top of the ‘wish list’ for many tourists who come to this country, and tourism generates over 17% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” said The Hon. Lazaro Nyalandu, Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism. “Our elephants are a great asset to this country in many ways, and my government is determined to stop the slaughter. But we cannot do it alone: We want to enlist the help of all of our citizens to stop the theft of our national heritage.”
A recent WildAid/AWF survey of over 2,000 Tanzanians in both rural and urban areas found that more than 79% of respondents said that it would matter a great deal to them if elephants disappeared from Tanzania. Over 73% said that they associated wildlife with their national identity and heritage.
“Poaching of elephants literally is theft from all Tanzanians and from future generations,” said Peter Knights, CEO of WildAid. “We invite all media to participate in the campaign, and we need everyone to help in the fight to stop it.”
Dr Patrick Bergin, CEO of the African Wildlife Foundation, said of the new campaign, “Tanzania has always been known for its large elephant herds and, together with Botswana and Zimbabwe, is home to half of all of Africa’s elephants. The current rate of poaching, however, threatens to erode that distinction. As Tanzanians learn more about the crisis through the campaign, we hope they will work with us to protect this tremendous asset.”
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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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