A group of leading Chinese celebrities are lending their voices to a campaign to save elephants by rejecting ivory trade. The campaign “Give Peace to Elephants; Say No to Ivory” officially launched today at a gala event by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (www.ifaw.org) in collaboration with Beijing Jintai Art Museum and a dozen media agencies, private corporations and non-profit organizations in China.
The event unveiled a series of Public Service Announcements (PSAs) featuring Chinese celebrities from all walks of life including artist and sculptor Yuan Xikun, business tycoon Wang Shi, actress Wang Luodan, pop star Li Yuchun, and TV anchor Zhang Yue. Each PSA features one celebrity expressing his/her heart-felt plea on behalf of elephants and urging consumers to reject ivory trade.
“Elephants are facing an unprecedented crisis today. New research reveals that in a mere three to four years, more than 100,000 elephants were slaughtered in Africa simply for the ivory trade. The demand for and consumption of ivory stimulate poaching of elephants and threaten the survival of this ancient species”, said Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia Regional Director for IFAW. “China’s key opinion leaders (KOL) mobilizing society to stigmatize ivory may be the only hope for African elephants’ survival.”
Speaking at the gala, Dr. Meng Xianlin from China CITES Management Authority praised the involvement of the KOLs in the campaign, “Government policies and enforcement are important steps to reduce illegal wildlife trade, but raising awareness and changing consumer behavior is equally important.”
Actress Wang Luodan flew in from a movie set in Taipei to attend the campaign launch. “For a long time, I didn’t know that elephants have to die for people to have ivory,” she emotionally appealed. “We can live a life without ivory. But the world will be a hopeless one without elephants. If you truly appreciate beauty and oppose the killing of elephants, then join me in rejecting ivory products.”
“Chinese culture and tradition values the harmonious co-existence between people and animals,” said Yuan Xikun, world renowned sculptor and artist who had submitted multiple proposals into China’s legislature urging for government action to prohibit the trade of endangered species. “It is a shame on our culture, our thousand-year history and our humanity to regard objects based on the slaughtering of animals as ‘art.’”
The campaign PSAs will appear both outdoors and indoors, online and offline in a media blitz across the country in the coming months. It is made possible by support from over a dozen Chinese corporations and media agencies such JCDecaux China, Balintimes Media Group Co.,Ltd, TOWONA Media Group , DEEP magazine, ifeng.com, youth.cn, hope.huanqiu.com, DEEP and LADY magazines. The media platforms and PSA placements provided to the IFAW campaign to change consumer behavior represent in-kind value in the tens of millions of US dollars.
“ifeng.com developed special online channels and interactive games to promote the campaign,” said CEO Fu Jiren. “We hope netizens will reject ivory trade when they understand that their desire for ivory is exactly what kills elephants.”
To facilitate online participation of the campaign and reduce online wildlife trade, Sogou developed special pop-up windows reminding potential consumers to their legal and moral obligations. The company developed several new interactive online products to facilitate convenient netizen participation in the IFAW campaign.
Religious leader Jia Cuo Rinpoche Buddha sent a special message wishing the campaign success. Urging his followers to reject ivory, he said, “Ivory is no excuse for killing elephants, a species as intelligent as us. I object to the use of religious artifacts made of ivory. Behind the white façade is the blood and evil of slaughter.”
Aided with augmented reality technology, an African elephant will appear miraculously on stage, pushing the gala to a crescendo. Standing under a huge acacia tree, the elephant named “Laura,” will extend her trunk to Wang Luodan, trumpeting and stomping her feet in greeting.
“Elephants are incredibly intelligent and emotional animals. It is wonderful that technology enables us to be up close and personal with an elephant,” said Luodan, “I hope that interaction with Laura will instill a sense of awe in people. With awe comes respect and compassion for their wellbeing.”
“Elephants’ survival hinges on making ivory consumption socially unacceptable,” added Gabriel, “To that end, each and every one of our KOLs is a force. They are reaching out to their peers, friends, families and fans, mobilizing millions of people in China and around the world to stigmatize ivory in order to save elephants.”