SAN FRANCISCO (WildAid) - In between his blockbuster movie releases, Po, the Kung Fu Panda, is busy championing endangered species as part of the world's largest ever wildlife conservation awareness program. He joins Jackie Chan, Yao Ming, Leonardo DiCaprio, Prince William, David Beckham, Lupita Nyong'o and many others as wildlife ambassadors with WildAid.
In a series of video messages and billboards produced by Dreamworks and WildAid, Po asserts that“poaching steals from us all”. The messages feature elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers and pangolins. Elephants are poached for their ivory, rhinos for their horns, lions and tigers for their bones and skins, and pangolins for their scales and meat.
“Not everyone has my skills”says Po modestly, “… Please help my friends. When the buying stops, the killing can, too. It's up to us.”
Po's messages will be distributed at movie theaters, on TV, billboards, print and social media in China, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong in Asia and globally by WildAid with the aim of educating millions about the urgent threats elephants and other wildlife face due to poaching and the illegal trade in their parts.
“Children love animals and they are quick to see the injustice of what is happening to them through wildlife trafficking. They can be very influential in pushing older generations to change their bad habits. We've seen children persuade grandparents to stop eating shark fin soup or using rhino horn.”said Peter Knights, WildAid CEO.
WildAid's campaigns have helped to reduce demand for ivory, rhino horn and shark fin. China banned ivory sales at the beginning of 2018 and prices had previously dropped by 2/3 with poaching already decreasing dramatically in Kenya and Tanzania. WildAid's ivory campaign in China helped increase public awareness about the elephant poaching crisis and the ivory trade by over 50% in its first two years. Over 95% of Chinese surveyed support the government's action to end the ivory trade.
In the last three years the price of rhino horn has fallen from $65,000 per kilo to around $22,000 per kilo and in Vietnam rhino horn sales have been banned while awareness about rhino horn has increased by over 70% since 2014. A 2016 survey in Vietnam showed that a 66% decline in respondents who believe rhino horn has medicinal effects, down to 23% compared with 69% in 2014, as well as a 73% decline in those who believe rhino horn can cure cancer, down to 9.4% compared to 34.5% in 2014.
Shark fin imports to China fell by 80% during 2011-2014 and wholesale shark fin sales in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou declined by the same amount between 2010 and 2014. Similarly, the prices of wholesale shark fins declined by 50-67%. In a survey last year, 93% of urban Chinese said they had not consumed shark fin in the past 6 years. Nearly 80% had seen WildAid campaign messages, and 98.8% agreed that the messages successfully raised awareness about shark protection and the need to reject shark fin consumption. In addition to changing consumer attitudes, WildAid has been instrumental in convincing dozens of airlines and shipping companies not to transport shark fins, as well as restaurants and hotel chains not to serve shark fin soup.