Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium has become the third Hong Kong retailer to announce it is no longer selling ivory, which AWF hopes will lessen the poaching and trafficking pressure on Africa's elephants. Photo by AWF.
Poaching of many of Africa’s iconic species has reached an all time high. With more than 35,000 elephants poached in Africa in 2012 and 668 rhinos poached the same year in South Africa alone, elephant and rhino populations are approaching a tipping point. Consumption of ivory and rhino horn, in addition to poaching on the ground, must be addressed.
The campaign targets Asia—starting with China.
As much as 70% of elephant ivory is transported to China, where it is sold for up to US$1,000 per pound and carved into jewelry, religious figurines, and trinkets.
The demand for rhino horn is also growing. It now fetches a price higher than even gold—nearly US$30,000 per pound. In Asia, it is purported to be a cure for fevers, impotence, and cancer. Research has, however, disproven any medicinal value, showing that rhino horn is made up of keratin—the same structural component found in human hair and fingernails.
AWF and WildAid conducted a survey in China that showed a lack of understanding of the origins of many wildlife products.
The survey showed that only 33% of individuals know that elephants are killed to obtain their ivory. When it came to rhino horn, 66.9% of participants did not know that rhino horn comes from poached rhinos, and an overwhelming majority believed in the medicinal and aphrodisiac properties of rhino horn.
AWF, with partners WildAid and Save the Elephants, launched a public awareness campaign aimed at stopping the demand for illegal wildlife products—specifically ivory and rhino horn—in Asia. The campaign began in China, where we worked with former NBA star turned conservationist, Yao Ming, on a series of PSAs. Other celebrities signed on to the campaign, and currently, we have an impressive list of celebrity advocates, including Li Bingbing, Maggie Q, Johnny Nguyen, and Jackie Chan—with more to come!
The PSAs and ads are running on televisions, billboards, and at mass transit hubs. We aim to open consumers’ eyes to the realities of their buying habits and to connect the brutal poaching of Africa’s majestic wildlife with the consumer demand for their parts.
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