(CELEBRITY ACTIVISM/ENDANGERED WILDLIFE) David Beckham’s moves off-field are proving to be just as impressive as they were on. The soccer legend joined forces with Prince William to fight illegal wildlife trade. The two, along with former Chinese basketball star Yao Ming, recorded PSA messages aimed at reducing the demand of rhino horn and ivory; especially in China and Vietnam—the largest market of banned wildlife products. Because of this demand, thousands of elephants and rhinos are killed each year by poachers—so many in fact that these beautiful animals are in danger of extinction within our lifetime. That’s why it’s so important for celebrities like Beckham, Ming, and Prince William to use their fame to spread awareness about such atrocities. A similar campaign helped reduce the demand for shark fin soup, and hopefully this one will be even more successful. After all, when you can bend it like Beckham anything’s possible. The messages will air later this year as part of WildAid’s demand reduction campaign. Read on for more information about the PSA messages, and the Duke’s plans for his newly established wildlife organization. — Global Animal
The Telegraph, Gordon Rayner
On the day the Duke announced he was quitting the Armed Forces, he revealed that he has created a partnership called United for Wildlife, which brings together seven of the world’s most influential conservation organisations, as well as The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
The body will initially focus on the illegal wildlife trade, and is likely to take up a large slice of the Duke’s time after he announced today that his seven-year operational career in the forces was at an end. The Duke will be president of the new organisation.
Earlier today the Duke was joined by Beckham and the former Chinese basketball star Yao Ming to record two public service videos on behalf of the anti-wildlife trade charity WildAid. The videos are aimed at the Far East, which has the biggest market for banned wildlife products such as rhino horn and ivory, and will be released later this year.
An estimated 25,000 elephants are killed every year by ivory poachers and 618 rhinos have been killed so far this year for their horns. The Duke has warned in the past that the “catastrophe” facing rhinos and other species could make them extinct within our lifetime.
“When I learned of the current poaching levels in Africa, I immediately agreed to help get this message out. It is shocking to think that we could lose these animals from the wild in our lifetimes.”
Yao Ming, one of the biggest sports stars in China, said:
“We must reduce demand if we are going to save these animals. We made tremendous progress reducing demand for shark fin soup through a similar campaign and a government ban at banquets is also helping. Traders say shark fin demand has been cut by 50% or more. I hope we can do the same for ivory and rhino horn.”
The Duke said of United for Wildlife:
“The threats to our natural heritage are extensive, but I believe that this collaboration of the best minds in conservation will provide the impetus for a renewed commitment and action to protect endangered species and habitats for future generations.
“At the root of the illegal wildlife trade, for example, is the demand for products that require the deaths of tens of thousands of these animals every year, pushing them further towards extinction. We must work together to prevent this catastrophe and allow our children the opportunity to experience wildlife in its many beautiful and varied forms.”
The seven conservation organisations partnering the Royal Foundation in United for Wildlife are: Conservation International, Fauna & Flora International, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, WWF-UK and the Zoological Society of London.
A spokesman for Kensington Palace said described United for Wildlife as “a long-term commitment to tackle the global challenges to the world’s natural resources so they can be safeguarded for future generations”.
Demand for rhino horn, ivory and other products made from parts of tigers, turtles and other endangered species is increasing in China and the Far East as living standards rise.
Earlier this year the Duke joined the Prince of Wales at a conference on the illegal wildlife trade held in St James’s Palace, where they saw items seized from smugglers by HM Customs including rhino horns, ivory products and stuffed tiger cubs.