VIRAL: ‘Join the Year of the Elephant’ is a cool way to show you care


Selene Trophy, News24

Date Published


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Cape Town –  A team of celebrities led by Yoko Ono, Yao Ming, Lupita Nyong’o want world leaders to end the ivory trade and make 2016 the Year of the Elephant – here’s how you can get involved.

A global team of celebrities and conservation groups led by WildAid have launched #JoinTheHerd, a new social movement to make 2016 the year when more African elephants are born than killed – with an estimated 33 000 African elephants killed every year for their tusks.

Actors, musicians, authors and athletes “joined the herd” on Wednesday on social media, representing five continents. Those who posted this striking image to join the movement included Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, Yao Ming (former NBA star) and Yoko Ono to name a few.

And now you can too. Click here to add your voice and face to #JoinTheHerd social movement – it’s an easy way to show you care yet raise awareness.

Launched internationally in both English and Chinese, the campaign encourages anyone who cares about elephants to #JoinTheHerd by changing their social media profile photo at  

To coincide with the upcoming Chinese New Year, visitors to the website are encouraged to join a cast of celebrities in wishing their social media friends and followers a “Happy Year of the Elephant” — a new twist on welcoming the Chinese Zodiac’s Year of the Monkey on Monday, February 8. 

WildAid said This week’s social media blitz is the first in a year-long series of international campaign activities for Year of the Elephant, including celebrity-hosted events, rallies, and design and photography competitions to celebrate elephants and ensure that the world’s illicit ivory trade is shut down, once and for all.

For nearly a decade, rising consumer demand for ivory has fuelled a poaching epidemic throughout Africa — decimating forest and bush elephants alike, leaving baby elephants without their mothers, and stripping local communities of desperately-needed tourism revenue. Meanwhile, militant groups have profited from the ivory trade, creating regional instability and strife.

In just a few short months, world leaders have finally charted a course to ending the crisis. In September, President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping agreed to phase out commercial ivory sales in the United States and China — an accord that also depends upon the closure of the Hong Kong market, which caters overwhelmingly to visitors from mainland China, the world’s largest ivory market. 

The Hong Kong government has been a fierce supporter of its large domestic ivory trade. With international criticism mounting, however, last month Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying made a stunning announcement: The government will work to ban the local ivory market.

“Finally there is a glimmer of hope for the world’s elephants, with the United States, China, 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.” 

To make 2016 the Year of the Elephant, the #JoinTheHerd movement is calling upon the worldwide closure of ivory markets and is asking the US, China and Hong Kong to provide specific details and a detailed timeline for phasing of ivory sales.

“This year, we must end the senseless killing of elephants and ensure their future. It’s up to all of us — you and me — to save them,” said WildAid ambassador and actress Maggie Q. “When you ‘join the herd,’ you’re connecting with people from all around the world who share this vision for Africa’s elephants.”