News / Africa

Chinese Actress Urges Greater Effort to End Illegal Ivory Trade

Reuben Kyama
Film actress Li Bingbing, one of China’s most popular celebrities and a rising Hollywood star, is urging governments and consumers to do more to combat illegal wildlife trade in Africa.

Speaking on a trip to Kenya this week, Li, who is also a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program,  said citizens and the business community in Asia can play a crucial role in preventing the illegal killing of elephants in Africa by saying no to ivory products.

“I’m telling people (and businesses) in China that we can do without these ivory products, " she said.  "They need to know every time there’s an ivory made product an elephant is killed. The current poaching crisis raises major concerns about the survival of elephants and rhinos here in Kenya.”

The number of elephants illegally killed in Africa has doubled over the last decade – reaching 25,000 killed in 2012, while the ivory trade has tripled in size,  according to a recent UNEP study called Elephants in the Dust.

Rise in Illegal Killing of Elephants

Experts say the major recent spike in elephant killings is threatening the future of some elephant populations and the livelihoods of millions of people linked to tourism.

Patrick Omondi, a Kenya Wildlife Service official, said the demand for illegal ivory remains highest in the rapidly growing economies of Asia, particularly China and Thailand.

“The demand is very high especially among the Asian countries, mainly Thailand and China," he said. "Humankind can do without ivory… ivory is not medicine. It’s being used for necklases, for rubber stamps; it’s for status something human kind can do without. Our messege is that ivory is for the elephant.” 

Besides illegal killings, elephants are also threatened by the increasing loss of habitat in around 29 per cent of their range areas - primarily as a result of human population growth and agricultural expansion. According to the UNEP study, this figure could rise to 63 per cent by 2050, posing a major additional threat to the long-term survival of the species.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner says rising wildlife crime in Kenya and other parts of Africa is an issue of global concern, impacting many regions of the world.

"The reason why we’re here with someone like Li is because she can speak to millions of people around the world in ways that most of us can’t," he said. "Li Bingbing’s work to highlight the multiple costs of illegal trade can reach millions of consumers, and encourage sustainable choices that can support the survival of Africa’s elephants.”

Li's high-profile visit to Kenya is a joint effort by the Kenya-based NGO Save the Elephants and UNEP. Her campaign is expected to reach millions of people in China and beyond, and will highlight the cost and impact of the demand for ivory on elephants in Africa.

The World Wildlife Fund estimates the global illicit trade in wildlife to be worth at least US$19 billion per year, making it the fourth largest illegal trade in the world after narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking.
Listen to report on Kenya elephants
Listen to report on Kenya elephantsi
|| 0:00:00

You May Like

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Report: US to Sail Warships Near Disputed S. China Sea Islands

Move will signal nonrecognition of Chinese territorial claims over area, Financial Times reports, citing senior US official More

Study Describes Ancient Deltas, Lakes on Mars

Research builds on recent NASA announcement that water flows on red planet today More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanoni
John Owens
October 08, 2015 7:32 PM
Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs