Four new Thai "champions" against wildlife trafficking Wednesday joined a public campaign to help reduce the demand for wildlife products and put a halt to the illegal trade, the US embassy said.
The four pledged their support for the iTHINK campaign, which is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is part of Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking program.
The four were identified as singer/actor Saharat Kong Sangkapreecha, actress Nuengthida Noona Sophon, renowned wildlife veterinarian at the Department of National Parks Dr Patarapol Maneeorn, and highly respected marine biologist, Dr. Thon Thamrongnawasawat.
“This campaign marks a big step forward in our efforts to inform the public about the illegal trade in wildlife – one of the most important issues of our time,” said Beth Paige, director of USAID’s Regional Development Mission for Asia. “We need to follow the lead of these champions of wildlife. I think we all have to be bold enough to take a stand: we don’t need ivory trinkets and shark fin soup.”
The four celebrities were chosen for their own empathy towards wildlife and their ability to reach a large spectrum of the public. The embassy said the four are helping to spread the message – in their own words.
Attending Wednesday’s launch at Bangkok’s EmQuartier mall were a large number of conservationists and supporters, along with representatives from USAID, Thai Customs, the Airport Authority of Thailand, and the Department of National Parks.
First introduced in 2012, the iTHINK awareness campaign implemented by USAID’s partner Freeland, offers an interactive platform to inform and empower people to say no to endangered wildlife pets.
The celebrities messages are clear. “Stop buying ivory products and the killing stops,” Sahrat said in his public service announcement message about elephant poaching.
Appalled by the cruelty of the illicit wildlife pet trade, Nuengthida explains: “If you knew the truth about wildlife pets, you wouldn’t be buying them.” iTHINK’s first set of campaign celebrities numbered nine in total – from government officials to news reporters and celebrities. Since then, the campaign has been promoted largely by media placement and related activities.