World Wildlife Fund is the world’s leading conservation organization. Author Jan Vertefeuille leads World Wildlife Fund’s campaigning efforts. She has been with WWF for 11 years, working to inspire and mobilize the public to help conserve endangered species around the world. Visit WWF’s cause to learn more. – Alejandro De La Cruz, Causes.com
Last month in Bangkok, the prime minister of Thailand made a groundbreaking announcement as she addressed 178 governments meeting to discuss international wildlife trade: Thailand would shut down its ivory market. I was there at that historic moment, along with a team of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) campaigners, policy experts and scientists. Thailand is currently the second-largest market for ivory, behind only China, and the country has become a massive black market for illegal ivory poached from African elephants.
The impact of a Thai ivory ban for the world’s elephants cannot be underestimated.
We had been told the petition was a long shot because Thailand had for so long failed to address problems with its law that allows sales of ivory from domesticated Thai elephants. This authorized ivory trade has made the country a favorite destination for organized crime syndicates to launder poached African ivory. Poaching rates for both African elephants and rhinos have soared to catastrophic heights, something the 178 member nations of the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) were addressing in Bangkok.
One of the goals of WWF’s Stop Wildlife Crime campaign has been to ensure that wildlife crime—like elephant poaching—is treated as a serious crime worldwide and that our supporters make their voices heard on the issue. To maximize our reach, we turned to Causes.com and found a passionate community of supporters.
It resulted in an incredible surge of global support.
In the weeks leading up to the CITES meeting, the WWF petition on Causes garnered over 130,000 signatures and was shared by WWF supporters on Causes 250,000 times. The drumbeat intensified. The media took notice. When the petition closed, more than 1.6 million people around the world had urged Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to shut down the Thai ivory trade.
Our efforts helped to influence her strong stand against wildlife crime at the opening of the CITES meeting on March 3, but her personal leadership on the issue should be recognized as well.
Our victory in Thailand shows what we can achieve together.
WWF knows there is no “quick fix” solution to stopping wildlife crime and the powerful organized crime syndicates behind it. We are here for the long-term, invested in finding real solutions to make this happen. And we know we can do it thanks to the support of champions for wildlife.
As world leaders recognize the serious threat of wildlife crime – and its links to money laundering, drug trafficking, terrorism and other organized crime – we still need your support for our campaign.
From all of us at WWF, thank you to everyone at Causes who took action and spread the word. We couldn’t have done it without you.
- Jan Vertefeuille, WWF