Hollywood star Lupita Nyong’o has joined world celebrities in an international campaign to conserve African wildlife.  On her official homecoming the actress was unveiled as a Global Elephant Ambassador.

She joins the likes of Kungfu hero Jackie Chan who has stared in more than 100 films, Richard Branson founder of Virgin Group, Kristin Bauer, Dallas Mavericks basketball player Tyson Chandler and Li Bingbing, a Chinese actress and singer.

Other notable dedicated wildlife advocates are Britain’s Prince William and former England football team captain David Beckham.  In her media briefing at the Villa Rosa Kempinski, Nairobi, yesterday, Lupita vowed to advocate wildlife protection globally by raising awareness against illicit ivory and rhino horn trade.  “I am proud of my Kenyan heritage, and part of that heritage is the incredible wildlife haven that is in our care,” she said.

Lupita said during her visit at Amboseli National Park she learnt that every 15 minutes an elephant is killed in Africa, translating to about $96 million loss daily.  She called for a total ban on the sale of ivory worldwide.  “I have come to realise that when you know more you do more. I want to encourage everyone to learn more about these incredible animals, by reading online or visiting one of the many unforgettable national parks.

I ask the world to end the current elephant poaching crisis, by being ivory free,” Lupita said.  The campaign being driven by WildAid brings together celebrities and uses mass media campaigns run on both print and electronic media in countries deemed as greatest consumers of wildlife products.

Peter Knights, WildAid CEO, said celebrity endorsement and video and print campaigns carry messages designed to raise awareness on elephant poaching and to reduce the demand for ivory in consuming markets.

“There has been 50 per cent increase in awareness of elephant poaching in China in the last two years, 95 per cent 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 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,” Knights said.

Lupita urged the US and Asia to shun ivory products from Kenya.  “Poaching undermines national security and endangers jobs and community support derived from tourism. Poaching steals from us all and in Asia and US when the buying stops the killing can too,” she said.

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