Happy Chinese New Year – Let’s Celebrate the Chinese Activists Speaking out for Elephants

The Chinese year 4713 begins on Feb. 19, 2015.

We are entering the Year of the Sheep, the sheep is known as the most creative sign in the Chinese zodiac so we hope 2015 is a year of good fortune for creativity here at Dream Out Loud Films too!

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Chinese revellers in NYC welcome in new year with brightly coloured sheep. Credit Philippe Lopez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On this day of celebration in China, the DO Elephants Go To Heaven? team are shining the light on Chinese activists campaigning to stop the ivory trade. A burgeoning Chinese middle class is fuelling a seemingly insatiable demand for ivory and pushing levels of poaching and smuggling to new heights. As a result African elephant populations are being decimated with some areas having lost as much as 70% of their population in the last 10 years. If you are in Washington DC you can join in Elephant DC’s peaceful vigil at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China to show your commitment to saving elephants this year. Below are 5 activists working in close association with Chinese public, media and lawmakers to curb the demand and stop elephant poaching.

LI BINGBING ACTRESS

Li BingBing is not only one of the most celebrated young actresses in Chinese cinema, she is also a UN Environment Programme Goodwill Ambassador. She is best known for her starring roles in Resident Evil: Retribution and Transformers: Age of Extinction but Li still finds time to speak up about a different kind of extinction. You can watch a mini-documentary made in association with Save The Elephants in which she travels to Kenya to see the effects of poaching first-hand, and a public service announcement in which Li, on being pierced by a poacher’s bullet, is transformed into a fatally wounded African elephant (below).

 ELIZABETH QUAT LAWMAKER

Elizabeth Quat is a legislator from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and a leading proponent of the ban on all ivory sales in China. This year Quat formally announced her intention to seek a Hong Kong government ban on its domestic ivory trade.

“Hong Kong would be the first consumer nation to ban ivory sales,” Legislative Councillor Quat said. “We’d be taking a strong stand with our brothers and sisters in Africa and setting an example for the rest of the world.” 

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Photo: Dr Quat visits David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya on fact finding mission. (c) www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org

CECILIA HO YEN KAI YOUTH ACTIVIST

At just 16 years old Cecilia Ho is setting the bar for youth activists everywhere. In October 2012 she was profoundly affected by ‘Ivory Worship’, an article about blood ivory in National Geographic. She decided to write a letter to her local Hong Kong newspaper, The South China Morning Post and since that moment has not looked back in her efforts to spread awareness about the plight of elephants. She started, Schools United For Elephants, a grassroots movement across schools in Hong Kong, and has more than 40 schools and 60 organizations supporting her. Watch Last Hope For Elephants presented by Cecilia on YouTube below.

“Every tusk costs a life at least! Is it worthwhile?  Ivory is not a necessity for people, but elephants are very crucial animals to the whole world, especially the ecosystem. No poaching! No ivory trade!” Cecilia Ho, in an interview for Elephant Voices, National Geographic.

YAO MING BASKETBALL PLAYER

The carving of ivory in China is such a deep rooted tradition that it’s going to need a GIANT uprising to stop it. Yao Ming is one such giant! At 6’7″ and as China’s biggest basketball star, Ming really stands out from the crowd. He became a WildAid ambassador in 2006 and has appeared in numerous ads, billboards, and TV Public Service Announcements calling for an end to the illegal wildlife trade. He not only speaks out for elephants but has championed the conservation of sharks, and rhinos too. His messages have reached hundreds of millions of people in China and around the world and he is the star of 2013 documentary, The End of the Wild, which tells the story of his transformation into a wildlife defender and demonstrates his resolve to carry the conservation message back to his country. He presents documentary series Saving Africa’s Giants available to watch on Animal Planet and blogs about his story here.

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Yao Ming & orphaned baby elephant in Kenya. http://yaomingblog.com

 MAX BAUCUS  US AMBASSADOR TO CHINA

At a gala in aid of International Fund for Animal Welfare’s “Give Peace to Elephants, Say No to Ivory” campaign, Mr Baucus announced his commitment to stopping elephant poaching and the highest legislative level stating, “I am going to push for fighting wildlife crime to the highest level of government dialogues between President Obama and President Xi Jinping. It is the right thing to do.” The Ambassador’s wife echoed his concerns saying, “Elephants are very close to my heart. We need to educate the 70% of the people who don’t know ivory comes from dead elephants and change their behavior.” The pair will be working in association with IFAW and plan to visit IFAW’s project to protect Asian elephant habitats in Yunnan.

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US Ambassador to China announces hardline on wildlife trade at IFAW gala in presence on Chinese dignitaries. (c) www.ifaw.org

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