30,000 elephants killed per year for their ivory


Between 1970 and 1989, African elephant populations were halved as legal “regulated” trade in ivory enabled laundering of illegal ivory from poached elephants. In 1989 the Convention of the International Trade of Flora and Fauna (CITES) abandoned attempts at regulation and passed a ban on international trade in ivory. Though the 1989 ban was initially a great success, cutting ivory prices overnight, reducing poaching and allowing elephant populations to start to recover, the success was short-lived. The growth of newly-affluent markets in Asia, predominantly in China, “one-off” sales of African stockpiles to China and Japan in 2008, in conjunction with the old problems of corruption, poor enforcement of regulations, and a lack of prosecutions allowed illegal markets to flourish, particularly in China.  

What is WildAid doing?: 

In 2013, we launched a three-year campaign to reduce elephant ivory demand in China. The kick-off featured new public service messages from longtime WildAid Ambassador Yao Ming and actor/director Jiang Wen that were broadcast thousands of times on nearly two dozen TV channels in the first two months of the campaign.

Moving forward, our goal is to use existing methodology, networks, and contacts from our shark fin campaign to:

  • Raise awareness in China of the elephant-poaching crisis.
  • Support Chinese lawmakers in banning ivory sales.
  • Measurably reduce demand for ivory in China.

In addition to the new TV messages featuring Yao Ming and Jiang Wen we also produced messages with China’s leading actress Li Bing Bing, current and former NBA stars Tyson Chandler, Jeremy Lin, and Dikembe Mutombo, and actor Edward Norton, as well as forming a collaboration between The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William), sports icon David Beckham, and Yao Ming.

We also developed partnerships with Save the Elephants, African Wildlife Foundation, the National Basketball Association, and the Clinton Global Initiative. We continue to liaise with the Chinese State Forestry Administration and are encouraged to see them reach out to all Chinese travelling abroad in a message not to buy ivory via Chinese cell phone providers.

In 2014, we will continue to build momentum by creating more new messages and extensive street-level and social media campaigns. Our continuing partnership with Sina Weibo (e.g. China’s Twitter) will help spread our messages as we create an editorial board of celebrity ambassadors to share facts alongside their personal views online.

The Impact Timeline

  • March, 2013: We compile the “Ivory Demand in China” report, showing a significant lack of knowledge among China’s residents regarding ivory poaching and a strong willingness to ban ivory once presented with the facts of the trade.
  • April, 2013: Together with Yao Ming and Save the Elephants we launch the “Say No to Ivory” campaign in Beijing.
  • April, 2013: CCTV and nearly two dozen broadcast stations begin airing several public service messages featuring Yao Ming’s recent visit to Africa.
  • May, 2013: “War” a public service message featuring China’s leading actress, Li Bing Bing, is released and begins airing in China.
  • September, 2013: Actor Edward Norton becomes a WildAid Ambassador, filming a public service message to stop the demand for ivory (China broadcast release date TBD).
  • September, 2013: The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William), sports icon David Beckham, and Yao Ming meet in London to film one public service message on the ivory trade for WildAid.
  • September, 2013: We re-launch Yao Ming’s blog as he re-visits Kenya to continue filming for “The End of the Wild” documentary to be released in 2014.
  • October, 2013: WildAid Ambassador, artist, and activist Asher Jay creates the “Blood Ivory” and “Africa’s Panda’s” campaigns for publications in China and an English language social media initiative.
  • November, 2013: African Wildlife Foundation officially joins the “Say No to Ivory” campaign.
  • November, 2013: Our Executive Director, Peter Knights, joins an expert panel in Denver, Colorado as America crushes nearly six tons of seized ivory.
  • November, 2013: Together with NBA Cares, we launch a broadcast and social media campaign in China featuring Pau Gasol of the L.A. Lakers and Tyson Chandler of the N.Y. Knicks.
  • December, 2013: We launch "Fatherhood", a new public service message featuring The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William), sports icon David Beckham, and Yao Ming.
  • January, 2014: We are one of a few NGOs invited to attend China's crushing of more than 6 metric tonnes of seized ivory in Guangdong.
  • January, 2014: "Say No to Ivory" billboards featuring actress Li Bing Bing are placed at 100 bus stops across Beijing.
  • January, 2014: Additional "Say No to Ivory" public service messages featuring China’s leading actress, Li Bing Bing, begin being broadcast in China.
  • January, 2014: Yao Ming appears on CNN International to discuss the demand for ivory and the elephants he saw killed for their tusks during his visit to Africa with WildAid.
  • March, 2014: Partnered with NBA Cares to launch "No Hype," a new public service message featuring Pau Gasol, Al Horford, Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha, and Joakim Noah. 
  • February, 2014: China's 36 top business leaders released a pledge to never purchase, possess or give ivory as a gift. WildAid China Board Chairman Huang Nubo spearheaded pledge recruitment including Cao Guowie, Ceo of Sina Corp., China's largest internet portal, as well as the Chairman of Lenovo and 10 individuals from the Forbes 2013 China Rich List, including Jack Ma, founder of the Alibaba Group. 
  • March 4, 2014: former NBA star and WildAid Ambassador Yao Ming delivered a petition to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) asking China's government to ban the sale of ivory. 
  • March 2014: Enlisted Hong Kong's biggest ivory retailer, Chinese Arts & Crafts, to stop selling ivory. 
  • May 2014: Released "Beauty", a new public service announcement featuring actress Li Bing Bing, in China. 
  • August 8, 2014: Launched our Yao Ming documentary "The End of the Wild" in China, which aired in two part on China Central Television.  
  • August, 2014: Released three new Yao Ming billboards to accompany the Chinese premiere of "The End of the Wild." The ads were distributed throughout Beijing and Shanghai in airports, taxis, subways, bus stations and 100 bus stops.