China’s Young Celebrities Appeal for Wildlife Protection on World Wildlife Day

China’s Young Celebrities Appeal for Wildlife Protection on World Wildlife Day
Friday, 3 March, 2017
Beijing, China

On this year’s UN World Wildlife Day, United Nations Environment, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) launched the ‘Protect Our Wildlife Star’ campaign with young celebrities Jevon Wang, Junkai Wang and Xiaotong Guan to serve as the advocates for 2017 World Wildlife Day (WWD).

The 2017 WWD theme, ‘Listen to the Young Voices,’ highlights the critical role young people have in ensuring long-term wildlife conservation. Currently, individuals under the age of 30 comprise of more than 50 percent of the world’s population.

“Youth has the power to change the world. Together we can protect wildlife,” said Erik Solheim, Under-Secretary-General of United Nations and Executive Director of United Nations Environment. Ongoing major threats to wildlife including habitat change, overexploitation or illicit trafficking are driving species to the brink of extinction while posing environmental, economic, development and security risks. Overall, nearly 8,000 species of animals, from birds and insects, to gorillas, elephants and reptiles, are considered at risk of extinction. African elephant populations declined by 30 percent between 2007 and 2014 – a decrease of 144,000 elephants. Over 1 million pangolins became victims of illegal trading and poaching in the past decade. In 2015, 1,175 rhinos were hunted down and killed in South Africa, 90 times more than that of 2007.

Those frustrating data could be reversed especially when working across generations to fully harness the innovation and energy of youth. Governments, law makers, enforcement officers, customs officials and park rangers across every region are scaling up their efforts to protect wildlife. From the come- back of pandas in the wild to the ban on commercial ivory enacted by China government, all of collective impact in past years is widespread and undeniable. “Examples like this give us hope that when we work together, we can really achieve success.” Solheim said, “I encourage youth all over the world to protect this beautiful planet and all of these amazing animals.”

“We all want to protect wildlife, but not everyone can be on the frontlines helping animals directly,” said Joyce Ma, TNC China Program Country Director. “The young Chinese celebrities did not let that deter them from taking action and speaking out for animals on World Wildlife Day.”

In a Public Service Announcement, Jevon Wang, Junkai Wang and Xiaotong Guan spoke for rhino, elephant and pangolin respectively, calling their peers and fans to pay attention to wildlife, and join their efforts to protect the endangered wildlife, they regard wildlife as the superstars of the planet, not themselves. 

Dozens of celebrities from entertainment, culture, and sports joined in the efforts to encourage youth participation and engagement in protecting wildlife.  “The disappearance of wild plant and animal species is a driver of global extinction. Do not let humans be the only surviving species on Earth,” said Hui Kang, an anchor for China Central Television.

“I believe the voice and opinions of Chinese celebrities can help stigmatize the wildlife trade, and ultimately preserve the endangered species,” said Grace Gabriel, IFAW Asia Regional Director.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on social @action4ifaw and Facebook/IFAW.

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