Poaching of many of Africa’s iconic species has reached an all time high. With an estimated 35,000 elephants poached in Africa in 2014 and 1,215 rhinos poached in 2014, in South Africa alone, demand is growing at unsustainable levels. Consumption, in addition to existing on-the-ground efforts, needed to be addressed.
The Say No Campaign targets major ivory and rhino horn consuming nations in Asia—including China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand.
As much as 70 percent of elephant ivory is transported to China, where it is where it is sold for up to US$3,000 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 disproven any medicinal value, showing that rhino horn is made of keratin, like human hair and nails, and ingesting it has no effect on symptoms.
In 2012, AWF and partners conducted a survey in China that showed a lack of understanding of the origins of wildlife products.
The survey showed that only 33 percent of individuals know that elephants are killed to obtain their ivory. When it came to rhino horn almost 67 percent 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.
However, awareness is growing. A follow up survey, completed in 2014, found a 51.5 percent increase in those who believed elephant poaching is a problem and the number of individuals who believe in rhino horn’s medicinal effects dropped by 23.5 percent. These encouraging results prove that international awareness-building campaigns are a critical component in decreasing the poaching of wildlife on the African continent.
AWF, with partners WildAid, Save the Elephants and CHANGE 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. Since then, the campaign has expanded to Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand, and additional celebrities have come forward to show their support for elephant and rhino conservation. Currently, we have an impressive list of supporters in addition to Yao Ming, including Li Bingbing, Maggie Q, Johnny Nguyen, Jackie Chan, Lang Lang, Edward Norton, Richard Branson and many more.
The PSAs and ads are running on televisions, billboards, and at mass transit hubs. We aim to open consumers’ eyes to the realities of poaching and to connect Africa’s treasured, and endangered species, with the wildlife products that they are killed to make.
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