This Earth Day, it’s hard not to reflect on the connection between wildlife and the COVID-19 pandemic that is greatly affecting our world. At WildAid, we have been encouraged to see the overwhelming support from governments, NGOs, businesses, and individuals to further protect wildlife and ecosystems to prevent future pandemics.
With heightened attention on pangolins due to their potential connection to the COVID-19 outbreak, it was crucial to expand our pangolin campaign over the past few months. Our 2016 video PSA with mega-star Jay Chou warning of the potential health risks of consuming pangolin meat went viral early this year with over 20 million views in just a few days, as millions of people in China and beyond called for an end to the wildlife trade.
Just in the past few weeks, we placed 200 billboards in high-traffic transportation hubs, including the Shenzhen airport, Beijing subway, and Shanghai train station, which have already reached over 25 million people. These placements include a one-year display in the main lobby of the Kunming South Railway Station containing important facts about pangolins alongside our Jay Chou billboard. Meanwhile, prominent mobile and electronics company Xiaomi will play our latest Angelababy and Jay Chou video PSAs as loading messages when their TVs are turned on.
In partnership with People’s Daily, China’s largest state media outlet, we released an animated social media message for World Pangolin Day on February 15th along with other messages that reached a total of 21.5 million viewers and garnered over 120,000 comments/likes.
Broadening pangolin awareness and addressing the consumption that is driving the poaching crisis and the illegal trade are key parts of our newest campaign to end wildlife markets in Asia and urban bushmeat consumption in Africa. In China and Vietnam, we are building upon our existing pangolin campaigns and amplifying government regulations by adding new messaging about pangolins in possible connection with COVID-19. In Africa, we will soon release a short documentary film that highlights the hazards of urban bushmeat markets to both humans and wildlife.
While we remain hopeful that new regulations and strong enforcement will help put an end to the wildlife markets and trade, we must build on this critical moment to institute as comprehensive and permanent prohibitions and changes as possible. Time is of the essence. This is a global crisis that requires a global response in order to prevent another pandemic.
To maximize our impact for urgent action, we have joined with Global Wildlife Conservation and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to form the Coalition to End the Trade. Together, we will implement key wildlife conservation strategies, including reducing demand, phasing out supply chains, active monitoring for pathogens, and developing new opportunities for local communities dependent on wildlife consumption. By collaborating on a common set of priorities, we believe we can mobilize an effective response on a global scale.
On Monday, we launched the Declaration to End the Trade that calls on our world’s governments to take the most pressing action needed to prevent the next pandemic: permanently end the commercial trade and sale in markets of wild terrestrial animals worldwide. Please join us in sending a strong message to governments and international institutions around the world that people demand change for global health and security by signing the declaration.
This Earth Day, our mission to end the wildlife trade is more pressing than ever. Together, we can seize this moment for pangolins and end their status as the most heavily trafficked wild mammal in the world while also working to prevent another pandemic.
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Please join me today in supporting the Declaration to #EndtheTrade, a global call from @global_wildlife_conservation, @thewcs and @wildaid to put an end to all commercial collection and sale in markets of wild terrestrial animals (particularly of birds and mammals) for consumption. Your voice matters and together we can show governments that public opinion around this issue is strong. This is among the most important decisions that the world community can make today to prevent another pathogen from jumping from animals to humans and spreading around the world. Click the link in my bio to find out more and to sign the declaration. ?: E Bennett / WCS
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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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