For the second instalment in our Make Beijing Better series, we spoke with Tian Yuan, a representative of environmental organisation WildAid, about recruiting popular personalities, effective messaging and changing the narrative around shark fin soup.
What is WildAid?
While most wildlife conservation groups focus on scientific studies and anti-poaching efforts, WildAid works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products and to increase local support for conservation efforts. We work with governments and partners to protect fragile marine reserves from illegal fishing and shark finning, to enhance public and political will for anti-poaching efforts, and to reduce the impact of climate change.
Taiwanese-born Canadian actor Eddie Peng (Peng Yu-Yen) on avoiding products that may have possibly used Hawksbill Sea Turtle parts.
WildAid enlists popular Asian, African and Western stars to spread the message about wildlife crime. Currently working with more than 100 ambassadors, we deliver high-impact, culturally sensitive campaigns that reach hundreds of millions of people each year. Our ambassadors represent film, television, music, sports, politics, religion, business and more.
WildAid’s media campaigns feature some of the most influential voices in the world advocating for wildlife conservation on a massive scale thanks to nearly 230 million USD worth of donated media placement each year. Our video, print and online campaigns have measurably increased awareness about poaching and prompted changes in attitudes and behaviour. As a result, there have been significant drops in prices and consumption of endangered species products, such as ivory, rhino horn and shark fin.
How did WildAid come to be?
WildAid started working in China 15 years ago and has since become our flagship program. The opportunities to have a real impact on ending the trade in endangered wildlife are tremendous in China. We have received genuine support from the government, media, celebrities and the general public in China even in those earliest days.
Ian Somerhalder encouraging people to stop buying products that use shark parts, most especially their fins.
How is WildAid making a difference?
Ivory Free Campaign
WildAid runs campaigns to raise awareness of the elephant poaching crisis, support lawmakers in banning ivory sales, and measurably reduce demand for ivory in Thailand, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and the US.
In 2012, WildAid launched a massive campaign to reduce ivory demand in China in partnership with Save the Elephants and the African Wildlife Foundation. Since then, public awareness of the crisis has grown rapidly. Our surveys showed a 50 percent increase from 2012 to 2014 in the number of Chinese people who believe that elephant poaching is a major problem. The surveys also revealed that 95 percent of the public supports government action to end the ivory trade. According to traders, wholesale ivory prices in China and Hong Kong dropped 57-78 percent in 2016 from the 2014 high of 2,100 USD per kilo. Then on December 31, 2017, China, once the world’s largest ivory market, banned all domestic ivory sales.
Taiwanese actress Janine Chang (Chang Chun-Ning) and Chinese actor Ryan Zheng (Zheng Kai) encouraging viewers to show their love for the environment by eating less meat.
Say No to Shark Fins Campaign
More than 70 shark species are at risk of extinction. WildAid is campaigning to reduce shark fin consumption in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand, and to secure further restrictions to the global shark fin trade.
Former NBA basketball player Yao Ming became a Wild Aid ambassador in 2006 when he signed the pledge to give up shark fin soup and has since appeared in numerous ads, billboards, and TV public service announcements calling for an end to the illegal wildlife trade.
Since 2011, there has been an estimated 50-70 percent decrease in shark fin consumption in China. In October 2016, China’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Management Authority announced that shark fin consumption in China had fallen by more than 80 percent. Furthermore, the China Seafood Logistic and Processing Association reported that shark fin imports into China decreased by 81 percent from 2011 to 2014. Similarly, wholesale shark fin sales in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou declined by the same amount between 2010 and 2014. The prices of wholesale shark fins declined by 50-67 percent from 270-300 USD per kilogram in 2011 to 90-150 USD in 2014.
In 2016, we conducted a follow-up survey of Chinese residents to measure changes in attitudes and awareness toward shark conservation. The survey found that 93 percent
of respondents had not consumed shark fin in the previous six years. Nearly 80 percent
had seen WildAid campaign messages, and 98.8 percent
agreed that the messages successfully raised awareness about shark protection and the need to reject shark fin consumption. How can people get involved? Never buy wildlife products and spread the message ‘When the buying stops, the killing can too’.
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