The Duke of Cambridge, David Beckham, and Yao Ming are speaking out as fathers against illegal wildlife trade.

“As a father I want our children to know that rhinos are not just a picture in a book,” says The Duke of Cambridge.

The trio have joined forces with WildAid to protect elephants, rhinos, and sharks for future generations. In September of this year they met in London to film two messages that will air globally, with targeted outreach in China and Vietnam, beginning in January 2014 as part of WildAid’s demand reduction campaign and the Royal Foundation’s United for Wildlife Collaboration.

The first message was released to the media earlier today at a press conference in Shanghai featuring Yao Ming and WildAid Executive Director Peter Knights. A second message focusing on rhino horn will be released in February.

Premiering the new WildAid PSA in Shanghai featuring The Duke of Cambridge, David Beckham, and Yao Ming. Seated are WildAid Executive Director Peter Knights and WildAid Ambassador Yao Ming.
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The Duke of Cambridge said, “We must stop the demand for illegally traded wildlife products within our lifetimes or these amazing animals will be forever wiped from the planet. As a father I want our children to know that rhinos are not just a picture in a book.”

Poaching is on the rise as demand increases with economic growth in Asia. South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs reported on November 27 that 891 rhinos were killed so far in 2013 compared to 2007’s total of 13.

Video: 'Fatherhood' PSA with the Duke of Cambridge, David Beckham and Yao Ming

“We can all do our part by sharing this message with buyers of illegal wildlife products,” said David Beckham. “If you do buy ivory, rhino horn, or shark fin I urge you to stop and help us bring these senseless killings to an end.”

Recent surveys indicate a large portion of China’s population is unaware of the death toll to create ivory and rhino horn products, yet a greater number of residents support government enforced bans. (Read the ivory and rhino horn surveys.)

Yao Ming and an orphan elephant at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
Yao Ming and an orphan elephant at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
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“We must raise awareness and encourage action if we are going to stop the demand for these products,” said former NBA Star Yao Ming, an iconic figure in China. “Many consumers change their behavior when shown the facts. A similar campaign and a government ban at banquets are helping to reduce shark fin consumption in China. We can do the same for ivory and rhino horn.”

Yao spearheaded the shark fin initiative with WildAid and launched the “Say No to Ivory and Rhino Horn” campaign earlier this year in partnership with WildAid, African Wildlife Foundation, and Save the Elephants.

Yao Ming watches a parade of orphan elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
Yao Ming watches a parade of orphan elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
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“Familial ties are strong in countries where ivory and rhino horn are traded,” said WildAid’s Peter Knights. “This first message asks parents to consider the world that their children will inherit.”

WildAid is the only organization to solely focus on reducing the demand for wildlife products. Working with hundreds of Asian and Western celebrities and business leaders, including Jackie Chan, Edward Norton, and Sir Richard Branson. WildAid’s public service messages and educational initiatives reach hundreds of millions of people a week in China alone through donated media space. For more information: www.wildaid.org.

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