Peter Knights, WildAid’s Founder and CEO has received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his service in working to end the wildlife trade.
The OBE is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organizations, and public service outside the civil service. Previous recipients of the OBE include luminaries from sports, the arts, business and charitable works.
“I am deeply honored to receive this recognition,” said Knights.
Knights first outlined the demand reduction concept in 1995 when originating the Asian Conservation Awareness Program with actor Jackie Chan. While historically conservation efforts and funding had exclusively focused on anti-poaching and protecting wildlife on the ground, Knights argued that poaching crises arise primarily from increases in consumer demand for wildlife products due to rapid economic growth in key developing countries in Asia; therefore, it was possible to reduce that demand rather than to just increase anti-poaching efforts. This novel approach has helped to measurably reduce shark fin, ivory, rhino horn and manta gill-raker consumption in Asia.
WildAid’s campaign message “when the buying stops, the killing can, too” has been active in Singapore, China, Vietnam and Laos for twenty years. This simple message has helped recruit over 200 high-profile ambassadors to speak out for wildlife, including Yao Ming, Jay Chou, Harrison Ford, Prince William and David Beckham and generates more than US$ 200 million a year in donated media space.
“Peter is an extraordinary, dedicated pioneer in his field as well as great credit to the United Kingdom for his selfless work to protect global wildlife and change attitudes to wildlife consumption,” said Sir Richard Branson, who nominated Peter for the OBE award.
Knights is now leading the same approach to popularize conservation in Africa with celebrity ambassadors including Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira and Djimon Hounsou and the “Poaching steals from us all” campaign active in Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Gabon, Cameroon and Nigeria.
In 2020, he and WildAid launched a new campaign in Asia and Africa to raise awareness of the risks of zoonotic disease from consuming bushmeat and other wildlife parts.
Knights will be presented with his OBE at a formal ceremony when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
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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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