By Paula Kahumbu
Li Bingbing and Yao Ming are among the celebrities campaigning to save elephants – now African politicians must do the same.
The world can no longer ignore the reality that elephants may be gone within decades, unless something drastic happens to stop the slaughter. Crushing the criminal cartels in Africa is only half of the challenge, demand in consumer countries must also be choked. The demand for ivory in the Far East is unprecedented and China alone consumes over 50% of the illegal ivory coming out of Africa.
Stepping up to the challenge, Chinese actress and UNEP Goodwill Ambassador, Li Bingbing has added her voice to the campaign to raise awareness about how the demand in China is fueling the killing of elephants in Africa. In an emotional press conference at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi recently, Li admitted that she had once purchased a beautiful ivory bracelet because she had no idea that it had come from a killed elephant.
Like many people in China, Li asserts that ignorance in consumer countries is the enemy of elephants. On her first tour in Africa, Li had moving encounters with baby elephants orphaned by poachers at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's orphanage in Nairobi, and witnessed a downed matriarch in northern Kenya with Save the Elephants. More....