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The organization, along with Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, and the African Wildlife Foundation, launched a new public awareness campaign, with the slogan, “Poaching Steals From Us All,” to inform the public and generate widespread support among civil society for the protection of elephants and other wildlife species.
Tanzania’s elephant population has declined by 60% since 2009, many due to the illegal poaching crisis. Since one elephant is said to die every fifteen minutes, the media blitz is imperative to the survival of the majestic species, which is predicted to become extinct in 10 years.
WildAid is using television, radio, social media, newspapers and magazines, billboards and videos in public spaces in order to reach as many members of the public as possible, including the residents of remote rural villages. Some of the nation’s biggest celebrities are also involved, including award-winning singer-songwriter Alikiba, singerVanessa Mdee, former NBA player Hasheem Thabeet and former Miss TanzaniaJacqueline Mengi. An interfaith coalition of religious leaders of multi-faiths –including Muslims, Catholics, Evangelicals and other Christian denominations — are also participating, since Tanzania is a deeply religious country.
“I’m honoured to lend any support that I can to this effort to protect our wildlife,” Alikiba, an ambassador for the campaign, said in a statement. “Our beautiful elephants must be allowed to live — free and wild — instead of ending up as a carving on somebody’s coffee table.”
The campaign’s launch comes just one day before tons of ivory was crushed at New York’s Time Square this morning in a symbolic gesture to signal a dramatic crackdown on the illegal ivory trade. The display was co-ordinated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation together with a coalition of wildlife conservation groups.
“Elephants are at the top of the ‘wish list’ for many tourists who come to this country, and tourism generates over 17% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” said The Hon. Lazaro Nyalandu, Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism of Tanzania. “Our elephants are a great asset to this country in many ways, and my government is determined to stop the slaughter. But we cannot do it alone: We want to enlist the help of all of our citizens to stop the theft of our national heritage.”