WildAid launches ‘Year of the Elephant’ in a bid to stop the ivory trade once and for all

The social media-led campaign has already been backed by figures including Richard Branson and Yoko Ono

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The Independent Online

Celebrations are underway across the globe to welcome in the Chinese Year of the Monkey. But this year, conservation group WildAid is campaigning to make 2016 the first ever ‘Year of the Elephant’, with the initiative aiming to put pressure on governments to end the ivory trade once and for all. 

The social media-led campaign, which has already been backed by figures including Richard Branson, Yoko Ono, Arianna Huffington and Lupita Nyong'o, calls on people to #JoinTheHerd and make 2016 the year more elephants are born than killed by poachers. 33,000 African Elephants are killed every year for their tusks, but with international criticism mounting, several world leaders have recently vowed to phase out commercial ivory sales – including the United States and China, the world’s largest Ivory market. Hong Kong, whose government has previously been a vocal supporter of its large domestic ivory trade, also announced plans to ban it earlier this year. 

“Finally there is a glimmer of hope for the world’s elephants, with the United States, China and Hong Kong committing to end the ivory trade,” said WildAid CEO Peter Knights. "But there is much work to be done. Year of the Elephant is a trumpet call to action: we are here to ensure that promises are kept and elephants are saved.”

The initiative also has the backing of several high-profile Chinese celebrities, including former basketball player Yao Ming, actress Li Bingbing and actor Jackie Chan, calls on China, Hong Kong and the United States to provide specific details and a detailed timeline for the phasing out of ivory sales. 

Sir Trevor MacDonald has narrated a film released by the charity, that highlights the issue. A campaign site has also been launched, which provides further information and features a generator that enables social media users to change their profile picture to express their support. The celebrity-backed social media launch marks the beginning of a year-long calendar of ‘Year of the Elephant' activity, which includes international events, rallies and design and photography competitions. It has already  generated over 140 million social media impressions, one million ‘likes’ on Facebook and Instagram and has been viewed in China more than 20 million times. In Tanzania, the country most affected by poaching, it’s gone viral helped with the launch of the Alikiba’s music video, Africa’s biggest hip hop superstar.

To find out how to take part visit www.yearoftheelephant.org