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WildAid documentaries bring stories of imperiled wildlife to Chinese viewers

Celebrity star power is helping raise awareness of the plight of endangered wildlife through a stunning new Chinese documentary series. The five-part film series was launched in Shanghai today with the Shanghai Media Group's New Media Business Unit and WildAid.

The series pairs a celebrity with a different animal, telling the story of tigers, manta rays, sharks, rhinos, the Yangtze finless porpoise, and the vaquita. The documentaries were filmed in China, India, the United States, the Bahamas, Mexico, and Kenya.

Taiwan Busts $3.2 Million Wildlife Trafficking Network

TAIPEI (October 28, 2016) — Raids led by officials from the Taipei District Public Prosecutors Office have uncovered caches of illegal wildlife products throughout Taiwan, including rhino horn and bear bile.

According to government officials, a total of 21 packages of powdered rhino horn, 50 packages of bear bile powder, 124 packages of musk, and 18 pieces of suspected rhino, bull and antelope horns were seized from multiple locations.

Officials also confirmed that they are interrogating 12 individuals regarding the illegal wildlife products including the Honorary Chairman of the Taipei Traditional Chinese Medicine Association, Lien Chun-ying.

According to the prosecutor’s office, Lien used his trading company as a cover to smuggle wildlife products into Taiwan from mainland China. He is alleged to have run a secret supply chain via social media to sell products such as rhino horn to his customers, claiming to offer “life saving medicines.”

Patients and their families paid high prices for these products, and after discovering that they did not possess the promised medicinal effects, alerted officials to Lien’s operation. Lien and his associates are alleged to have made about $3.2 million over the past three years of smuggling and selling the illegal wildlife products.

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In Vietnam, Building Religious Support to Save Rhinos

WildAid and CHANGE host a rhino horn event at a Buddhist pagoda (CHANGE)

Though banned for over 20 years as traditional medicine in China, rhino horn consumption has recently surged in countries such as Vietnam, where horn powder is marketed as a “cancer cure” to desperate patients who lack access to adequate medical care. It’s also used as a non-traditional “recreational drug” and hangover cure. Despite these new uses, rhino horn has no unique medical properties and is primarily composed of keratin, the same protein found in human hair and fingernails.

 “Say No to Rhino Horn,” a three-year project of WildAid, African Wildlife Foundation and the Vietnamese nonprofit organization CHANGE, is working to dispel widespread myths of rhino horn’s potency by partnering with influential celebrities, entrepreneurs, media partners and religious leaders.

Over the past few months, our Vietnam team organized a nationwide effort to build support among Buddhist communities in speaking out against rhino horn trafficking and consumption. Supported by some of Vietnam’s most-respected monks, the campaign has attracted over 14,000 Buddhists across Vietnam, and has been featured on dozens of Buddhist popular media channels such as Giac Ngo (Buddhist Enlightenment) newspaper and Hoang Phap pagoda website.

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Superstar Jay Chou Joins Fight Against Illegal Wildlife Trade

We’re pleased to announce that Jay Chou, one of Asia's biggest celebrities, has joined the fight with WildAid in a new campaign against rhino horn, shark fin, elephant ivory and other products that are decimating wildlife. 

Chou is a native of Taiwan, once a hotbed for rhino horn trafficking and consumption. In fact, in the early 1990s, Taiwan was the biggest consumer of rhino horn, contributing to a poaching crisis at the time that decimated rhino populations. But thanks to decisive new laws and a mass education campaign, Taiwan ended its trade in rhino horn. Since then, rhino populations rebounded until new demand for rhino horn developed in Vietnam and mainland China, where it is peddled as a panacea for ailments and diseases, from hangovers to cancer. Currently about 1,200 rhinos are killed each year in South Africa.

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“Cuu Te Giac,” Vietnamese for “Save Rhinos”

In just a few short months, WildAid’s second-year initiatives for our “Stop Using Rhino Horn” campaign have become viral hits in Vietnam, reaching over 1 million people via traditional and social media channels.

Why are we working in Vietnam? In recent years, the country has become a primary market for rhino horn. Given its exorbitant cost, it’s used by some to demonstrate affluence and social status, both as a party drug and as a gift to important political officials. It’s also peddled as a cure for myriad health problems including cancer, despite any medical evidence proving such benefits.

Our campaign aims to educate the public about the rhino-poaching crisis and to counter the myths of rhino horn’s alleged medicinal benefits. After all, rhino horn is primarily composed of keratin fibers, the same as human hair and fingernails.

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Recent Spike in Large Seizures of Ivory, Rhino Horn, Pangolin Scales

Over the past two weeks, authorities in multiple countries have arrested smugglers and seized major shipments of illegal wildlife products in Africa and Asia, including rhino horn, elephant ivory and pangolin scales.

The largest such seizure occurred earlier this week in Singapore, where an estimated $6 million in ivory tusks, rhino horn and teeth believed to be from cheetahs and leopards were found stashed in a shipping container filled with bags of tea leaves. 

In each of these six separate cases, the shipments were en route to Vietnam and/or China, or involved smuggling by nationals of those countries.

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