By Charley Lanyon
Celia Ho Yen-kei seems like most teenagers. Smiling in her braces, the young anti-ivory trade activist is quick to laugh, especially when she's showing pictures of her pet parrots. But her exceptional character quickly surfaces during the interview, when she explains why she had to postpone a previous meeting: a threatening letter filled with some white powder was sent to her at school just over a week ago.
There was no message attached, just a large "X" marked on paper, so her teachers called in the police. "I think it was someone from the illegal ivory trade, or someone who is jealous of the attention my campaign is getting," Celia explains.
Yet the 14-year-old isn't intimidated and does not hesitate when asked if she will continue her campaign to ban ivory. "Of course!" she says. "My parents were worried, but they said I could keep doing the campaign."
Celia first learned about what she calls "the bloody ivory trade" from National Geographic magazine. "I saw a picture of an elephant killed by a poacher with blood on his tusks. It was a shock, because the demand is coming from China, and I'm Chinese. I wanted to help."
There were 1.3 million elephants in Africa in the 1970s; today the population has shrunk to between 400,000 and 500,000, conservationists say. In recent years, about 40,000 African elephants have been slaughtered for their tusks annually, says Joyce Poole, a zoologist and co-director of the conservation group ElephantVoices. More....