David Beckham has teamed up with Prince William in his campaign for the conservation of wildlife. Joining the team for the London video shoot for Prince William’s plight was also basketball player, and long-term WildAid ambassador, Yao Ming. Standing on set together, three highly revered figures, made them real forces to be reckoned with.
The men have united in a special video for WildAid, designed with a particular message in mind. The message is aimed at the Chinese consumers to stop the illegal purchasing and trading of ivory and rhino horns. The film is due to be aired across the globe within two months, with a particular concentrated airing in China and Vietnam, the two countries which have the largest markets in trading wildlife products which are officially illegal.
Known as one of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries that are developing very rapidly through trade and commerce, China’s nouveau wealthy have been steaming in to purchase expensive products and designer goods as well as many other symbols of wealth, including ivory carvings, ornaments and various wildlife parts for the use of Chinese medicines, such as rhino horn and various aphrodisiacs derived from other increasingly endangered species.
According to reports, other stars and celebrities such as Jackie Chan, Richard Branson and Leonardo DiCaprio are also very much involved in the campaign to save wildlife, in the form of Public Service Announcements, created with a view to “shame” people out of contributing to the supply and demand chain of the products, and to intentionally break it.
Another Hollywood actor, Edward Norton, is also involved in the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, and initially became involved in wildlife conservation early on in life, when his father, Edward Norton Jr., founded the Nature Conservancy for China. He said, “Our ecological systems are actually the underpinnings of our economic system. I see this is a paramount issue of this generation.”
When asked about why he decided to take part in the campaign to record the public messages, David Beckham said:
“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.”
WildAid’s executive director, Peter Knights, highlighted how David Beckham, Prince William and Yao Ming would be using the video message to discourage trade in illegal wildlife products such as shark fin, ivory and rhino horn in a visually descriptive way. He said:
“In one message they specifically talk about their concern as fathers, that future generations will lose these animals unless we can reduce the demand for endangered wildlife products. In the second message they show how all the rhinos left in the wild could fit inside just one soccer stadium.”
Knights went on that when discussing prospective candidates to take part in the video campaign, Prince William had suggested David Beckham. According to Knights, both the prince and former Premier League footballer are revered highly in the Far East and so are more likely to get their message across effectively.
The Duke of Cambridge will also become president of the new United for Wildlife organization, bringing together several of the world’s most powerful conservation organizations.
A WildAid report from the South African Department of Environmental Affairs stated that the Ivory trade claims the lives of an estimated 25,000 elephants on an annual basis and that as of September 5 at least 618 rhinos were killed for their horns this year alone.
WildAid ambassador Yao said that much progress had been made in the reduction of the demand for shark fin soup via a comparable campaign. He said that he hoped that they could now do the same to save the rhinos and elephants from being slaughtered or harmed for these products.
Finally, in support of the choice to enlist the likes of Prince William, David Beckham and Yao Ming, the new forces to be reckoned with, Knight said:
“One message is never enough in isolation. But as part of a long-term campaign, this trio will attract incredible attention to the issues, and that’s what is needed.”
Written by: Brucella Newman