In late 2012, WildAid interviewed residents in three major Chinese cities— Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou—to better understand awareness and attitudes toward elephant conservation, and to identify the behavior and beliefs of ivory consumers.
In 2013, WildAid, Save the Elephants and African Wildlife Foundation launched a campaign to reduce the demand for elephant ivory in China. Using the survey findings to inform the campaign strategy, the partners began working to raise awareness of the elephant poaching crisis, support lawmakers in banning ivory sales, and ultimately reduce demand for elephant ivory. Two years later in October 2014, the survey was replicated to assess changes in awareness, attitudes and behavior regarding ivory consumption and the poaching crisis, and to ascertain the reach of campaign messages in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.
Scientists released alarming reports in the past year recognizing the impact of rampant poaching on Africa’s elephant population. More than 100,000 elephants were illegally killed for their ivory in the threeyear period between 2010-2012, and at least 65% of all of Africa’s forest elephants were poached between 2002 and 2013, leaving 95% of the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo devoid of elephants. In the face of a seemingly interminable crisis, there is hope that residents of the world’s largest ivory-consuming nation are changing their attitudes and beliefs about ivory.
The 2014 China survey shows significant improvement in overall knowledge and recognition of today’s poaching crisis, as well as awareness of how ivory is obtained.
Ninety-five percent of residents agree that the Chinese government should impose a ban on the ivory trade as a way to stop poaching. Of those who had seen WildAid’s elephant PSAs featuring ambassadors Yao Ming or Li Bingbing, 90% said they would not buy ivory after watching them.
The results of the 2014 survey are promising and demonstrate that demand reduction campaigns are having an impact on awareness, attitudes and behaviors toward elephants and the ivory trade. However, much work remains to be done to reach and educate millions more about the ivory trade and poaching crisis before we are able to stop the killing.