A new public service announcement (PSA) starring Chinese film icon Li Bingbing shows Li and her “children” running for their lives from poachers across the African savanna.
As a poacher’s bullet pierces her skin, Li transforms into a fatally wounded African elephant before falling to the ground, surrounded and mourned by her elephant children. The poignant PSA is part of an ivory demand-reduction campaign conducted by African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), WildAid and Save the Elephants and is the latest in a string of AWF-supported PSAs that have been shown in China, the world’s largest ivory market. The PSAs will soon begin airing on 1,300 screens in 150 theaters across China.
“Compassion often begins with being able to put ourselves in someone else’s skin or, in this case, by putting ourselves in an elephant’s skin,” says African Wildlife Foundation’s CEO, Dr. Patrick Bergin. “We hope this new PSA will resonate with Chinese families and consumers on an emotional level and convince them to help protect elephant families in Africa by going ivory free.”
In coordination with the PSA launch, Li also urges her countrymen and women to go ivory free through billboards and signs erected at 107 locations in the Shanghai and Beijing airports.
“This public service announcement is well worth looking forward to as it has both warm affections and cruel realities,” said Li at the unveiling of the PSA in a recent press conference in China.
WildAid Executive Director Peter Knights, who also attended the PSA unveiling in China, remarked: “The most effective way to solve the elephant poaching crisis and end ivory trading is to reduce the demand for ivory, because when the buying stops, the killing can too.”
The PSA will air on televisions, airport screens, train station screens and street-level electronic billboards, in addition to movie theaters.
At the same time, Academy Award-winning Director Kathryn Bigelow has released her much-anticipated three-minute film, called “Last Days,” which examines the link between elephant poaching and terrorism. Bigelow’s film connects the ivory consumer in China with elephant poaching in Africa and the 2013 terrorist attack on Kenya’s Westgate Mall. Terrorist and rebel groups such as the Somali-based Al-Shabaab and Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army are alleged to fund some of their operations through the illegal ivory trade and have been implicated in a number of elephant poaching incidences.
AWF and WildAid are inviting the general public to join in a Thunderclap campaign on the evening of December 9 when Bigelow is scheduled to appear on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” to talk about her new film. The social media, “crowdspeaking” platform will allow those passionate about ending the ivory trade and stopping the elephant slaughter to spread their message simultaneously via Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr. The Thunderclap will trigger on December 9 at 10pm EST. Bigelow’s LastDaysofivory.com website also gives supporters the opportunity to “Fund the Fight” by donating to several groups working on the front lines to protect elephants, including AWF.