Tony Jaa, Thai national football team call on Thais to go ‘Ivory Free’


The Nation 

Date Published

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The “Ivory Free Thailand” campaign kicked off on Monday, with renowned international martial arts actor Tony Jaa and National football team coach Kiatisuk “Zico” Senamuang joining WildAid and WWF-Thailand to urge Thais to go “ivory free” and help put an end to the relentless slaughter of African elephants for their tusks.

The “Ivory Free Thailand” campaign is calling on consumers to never buy, own or accept ivory as gifts.

“Some people believe that ivory products can bring you power and good luck, protecting you from evil. But what they don’t know is that the majority of ivory in the Thai market today comes from elephants that are brutally slaughtered,” said Tony Jaa, who has appeared on-screen alongside Hollywood stars and grew up in Thailand’s northeastern province of Surin, in close company of elephants. That childhood experience evolved into a lifelong passion for protecting elephants.

“So how can ivory bring power and luck when the elephant itself was met with harm and left powerless? Remember, when you buy ivory, you could be paying to kill elephants. Please go ivory free,” added Jaa.

Along with Jaa and Zico, the campaign announced two other ambassadors: Jay Chanathip Songkrasin and Kong Kroekrit Thawikan from the national football team “The War Elephants,” who also star in the first campaign ads calling on Thais to join their team by not buying ivory.

“It is devastating to learn that over 30,000 African elephants are poached each year just to satisfy consumer desire for their ivory. Status, success or good fortune cannot come from the ivory of poached elephants. It is only hard work, dedication and playing by the rules that can bring one closer to success. We need to stop relying on items that are pushing these iconic species closer to extinction,” said Kiatisuk “Zico” Senamuang, head coach of Thailand’s national football team.

The ads will be broadcast and shared nationwide with the support of television channels and prominent social media pages. VGI Global media has also extended pro-bono media space to allow the campaign messages to reach commuters at BTS Skytrain stations in Bangkok.

According to a 2015 national survey by WildAid, African Wildlife Foundation and Save the Elephants, only about half of the Thai population (52%) is aware of the elephant poaching crisis in Africa, with a similar percentage aware that Thailand is one of the world’s primary destinations for smuggled ivory (51%).

“We need to raise awareness among the Thai public that the local market is supporting the killing of elephants in Africa, and we urgently need to reduce consumption of ivory products,” said John Baker, Managing Director, WildAid, which is partnering with WWF-Thailand on the “Ivory Free Thailand” campaign. “We believe, when the buying stops, the killing can too,” added Baker.