Global sports personalities came together in London yesterday to sign up to the #WhoseSideAreYouOn campaign, which seeks to mobilise support amongst younger generations for the fight against the illegal wildlife trade. Sportspeople already signed up as Ambassadors of the campaign include David Beckham, Andy Murray, Lewis Hamilton, Rahul Dravid, Samuel Eto’o, Yao Ming and Francois Pienaar.
United for Wildlife is a flagship project of The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, and includes partner organisations IUCN, Conservation International, Fauna & Flora International, The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, WWF, and ZSL.
Following on from the commitments made by world leaders at the United for Wildlife conference in February this year, the #WhoseSideAreYouOn campaign is a clear call to action for a generation who will use sport and social media to raise awareness of the extinction crisis.
Over the coming 12 months, United for Wildlife Ambassadors will be sharing exclusive social media content and encouraging their followers to do the same by sharing tweets, videos and games with their friends. In this way, the issue of wildlife trade will be brought into the daily lives of millions of young people around the world, who will get to know the current work of conservationists in the field.
Poaching and the illegal wildlife trade have increased dramatically over the past few years. In 2013, 30,000 African Elephants (Loxodonta Africana) and 1,000 Rhinos were slaughtered, and in 2011, between 40,000 and 60,000 pangolins were captured and killed in Vietnam alone. The illegal trade in high-value Tiger products including skins, bones, meat and tonics is the primary threat to Tigers (Panthera tigris). This has led to their recent disappearance from broad areas of otherwise suitable habitat, and continues at unsustainable rates. The current global wild Tiger population is estimated to be around 3,000 individuals.
More sporting Ambassadors are due to be announced as the campaign unfolds. You can follow the campaign using the hashtag #WhoseSideAreYouOn through Twitter and Facebook.