Lupita Nyong’o is back in Kenya and she is here for a cause she is passionate about. She has come back to visit family, friends and to advocate for a cause, which is wildlife preservation. Speaking early today she announced that she is now a global Elephant Ambassador for international conservation organization WildAid. WildAid is the only organization that focuses on reducing the demand for wildlife products.
The Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o is using her global platform for good as she says she will also be promoting women’s issues, acting and the arts in Kenya. This afternoon she met with creative artists and students at the KICC where she inspired people with her candid talk about the experiences that helped her become the great actress that she is.
“To express yourself is to be vulnerable…it is risky…and you may fail. But we can create powerful things with self expression” #Lupita“
Speaking about her new starring role as a global elephant ambassador Lupita said
“I am proud of my Kenyan heritage, and part of that heritage is the incredible wildlife haven that is in our care.” “I have come to realize that when you know more you do more. I want to encourage people all over the world to learn more about these incredible animals. From reading a conservation website like WildAid.org to visiting one of the many, unforgettable, world-class National Parks. I ask the world to end the current elephant-poaching crisis by being ‘Ivory Free.’ It is time to ban sales of ivory worldwide and to consign the tragedy of the ivory trade to history.”
The ivory trade in Asia has been re-ignited by a growing affluent class that sees ivory as an investment. This has stimulated the illegal ivory trade. Kenya banned the ivory trade 25 years ago but there has been an escalation in poaching of Elephant tusks which has resulted in a crisis. Across Africa, up to 33,000 elephants are killed annually for their ivory, with militant groups and international criminal syndicates profiting from the trade.
Lupita visited the Amboseli National Park with the Amboseli Trust for Elephants. She also went to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s elephant orphanage. She had meetings with local conservationists and filming messages for international distribution in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, China, Hong Kong, Thailand and the United States. These messages are designed to raise awareness of the elephant-poaching crisis and to reduce the demand for ivory in consuming markets. She also met with Kenya-based African Wildlife Foundation and Save the Elephants who partner on these projects, as well as representatives of the Wildlife Direct, and Ol Pejeta and Lewa Wildlife Conservancies — all groups active in combatting poaching in Kenya.
At the press conference earlier today, film was shown of Lupita as a young girl singing for the elephants, as well as some highlights of her trip, this will later be used for television, radio, social media, newspapers, magazines and billboards with the message in Africa that “Poaching steals from us all,” and in Asia and the US that “When the buying stops, the killing can too.”
WildAid CEO Peter Knights said:
“There has been a 50% increase in awareness of elephant poaching in China in the last two years, 95% of Chinese surveyed support a ban on ivory sales, and the government recently announced a phase-out of legal ivory sales. Kenya has passed new stricter laws and is cracking down through the courts. So there is some light at the end of the tunnel for elephants, and we hope Lupita can help us all secure their future.”
Lupita’s homecoming tour is supported by a number of prominent local companies including Safaricom.
Lupita joins a host of international icons including Jackie Chan, Yao Ming, EdwardNorton, Prince William and David Beckham who are featured in the campaigns. WildAid and the African Wildlife Foundation plan to recruit more prominent Kenyans to join the campaign locally when it launches next year.