Black Panther and Walking Dead star and award-winning playwright, Danai Gurira, has launched a campaign to support anti-poaching efforts and released a Black Panther message to address demand for rhino horn.
“For as long as I can remember, elephants, rhinos, and countless other wildlife have had their very existence threatened by poaching,” said Gurira. “It was an issue highly magnified in Zimbabwe when I was growing up and the fight to protect the second largest elephant population in the world, rhinos and other wildlife continues.”
Gurira, back in her home country, teamed up with international conservation organization WildAid in a video, billboard, and social media campaign. Gurira was honored at WildAid’s November 2018 gala as a “Wildlife Champion” for her advocacy.
The “Poaching Steals From Us All” campaign is running across Africa as she launched the Zimbabwean effort with Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) and the Zambezi Society, a local conservation group. The campaign also promotes wildlife tourism internationally and encourages Zimbabweans to visit their own incredible national parks, such as Hwange, Gonarezhou and Mana Pools.
The new messages include footage donated by Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures from a pivotal moment in Black Panther when Gurira’s character “Okoye” steps in front of a charging rhino. Gurira states: “We’re still losing our rhinos to ruthless poachers who kill these beautiful animals, just because people want their horns. We’re losing our heritage and an important attraction for our tourism industry so please report wildlife crime and help protect our rhinos, because poaching steals from us all.”
“It is little known around the world and in Zimbabwe that we are home to the second largest population of elephants in the world,” said Richard Maasdorp, Strategic Director at Zambezi Society & Zambezi Elephant Fund. “This places the burden of accountability on stakeholders such as the Zambezi Society to assist the Parks Authority to secure this resource for future generations. I thank WildAid for sharing this global responsibility with us and for helping us build awareness in Zimbabwe and across the world. We should be proud of this tripartite agreement.”
In the past 40 years, the world has lost 95 percent of its rhinos. The number of rhinos killed in South Africa has exceeded 1,000 every year since 2012.
“Wild rhino populations are at critically low levels,” said WildAid CEO Peter Knights. “It will take all of us working together, from the park rangers and government leaders in Africa to the rhino horn consumers in Asia to end poaching in our lifetimes.”
Recently, there has been significant progress with rhino horn prices falling and consumer awareness drastically improving. By early 2017, investigations in Vietnam and China found that the price of rhino horn had fallen by 70 percent to roughly half the price of gold. A 2016 survey in Vietnam showed that awareness about rhinos being killed for their horns has increased by 74 percent since 2014. Poaching in South Africa, too, has started to dip with a 25 percent reduction in the first half of 2018.
Since 2012, WildAid has worked to raise awareness of the rhino-poaching crisis in Vietnam and China. The campaign has leveraged over $169 million in pro bono airtime and media placement for campaign messages through an extensive network of media partners.