Imagine a world where people no longer buy wildlife products such as shark fin, elephant ivory, rhino horn and pangolin scales. While US President Donald Trump is deliberating on the lifting of the hunting trophy ban (last week his administration lifted and then promptly reinstated the ban), a world without poaching and the marketing of wildlife products remains an ideal that we at ROAR AFRICA and international conservation organization WildAid, passionately envisage.
From the plains of Africa to the depths of the world’s oceans, every day animals are being captured and killed mainly for profit. Each year up to 33,000 elephants are killed for their tusks, while in the last 40 years more than 90% of the world’s rhinos have been decimated for their horns. In the last 20 years, more than 1 million pangolins have been killed for their meat and scales while the fins of more than 73 million sharks are used every year for soup. Illegal trade in wildlife is thought to be worth more than 10-20 billion dollars a year, with only trafficking in arms, drugs, and people being more profitable.
So important is the message that WildAid purports, that it enjoys the unrivalled support of more than 100 celebrity ambassadors such as HRH Prince William, Yao Ming, Jackie Chang, Leonardo DiCaprio, Diane Kruger, Marion Cotillard, David Beckham, Josh Duhamel and many more, all of whom give of their time and resources to help raise funds for the countless public awareness campaigns that WildAid produces. Using the same techniques as high-end advertisers, WildAid educates people and urges them not to buy these products and as such the organization leverages nearly $289 million in pro bono media support every year ensuring up to 1 billion people a week are familiar with the WildAid slogan: “When the buying stops, the killing can too.”
And it’s paying off, WildAid is now the leading environmental communicator in Asia with its delivery of clear, hard-hitting messages by way of advertising campaigns. As a result, the consumption of shark fin has decreased by 50-70% in China with the Chinese government now banning shark fin from all state events. Similar declines have been evident in demand for shark fin and ivory.
Last weekend saw the annual WildAid Gala Dinner at the Beverly Hills Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles, an annual star-studded event attended by WildAid’s celebrity ambassadors. The event raised a staggering $2.9 million for WildAid’s programs, that focus on everything from reducing the trafficking and poaching of endangered species to protecting fragile marine habitats to promoting climate-friendly transport and food systems. ROAR AFRICA is immensely proud to have contributed towards that, with our sponsorship of a Wilderness Safari trip for two that raised $60,000 on the night.
WildAid founder, Peter Knights has this to say: ‘While we need frontline protection, scientific monitoring, and international cooperation to combat wildlife smuggling, none of this will stop the trade if we can’t reduce the demand. It’s not traditional conservation, but it’s only the long-term solution.’