By Delinda Lombardo on
WildAid, the global conservation organization leading the fight to end the illegal wildlife trade, held its annual fundraising gala, “A Night in Africa,” on Saturday, November 9 at the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel.
The event raised nearly $2M to build support for African conservation efforts and to end the illegal wildlife trade.
Look to the Stars was honored to attend the event where supporters were submerged into a ‘Night in Africa’.
Upon entry, guests were met with stilt-walking animals from “The Cirque.” African dancers and singers delighted the crowd as guests perused auction items while enjoying hors-d’oeuvres and cocktails & champagne from a skirt-bar.
Projected on large screens throughout the ballroom was footage of rhinos, elephants, lions and others from Africa, illustrating the beauty of these animals and need for protection.
A vegetarian meal specially curated by the Beverly Wilshire was served alongside specialty drinks made with the newly released Elegance Vodka by Elegance Brands Inc.
Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o and CEO of Angermeyer Cruises, Fiddi Angermeyer were honored as this year’s Wildlife Champions for their partnerships with WildAid in support of the organization’s message, “Poaching Steals From Us All.”
Nyong’o accepted her award via a video message and spoke of her experience learning about elephants and the ivory trade with WildAid.
“The work of WildAid is so important because it is a reeducation, a reorientation of the value of nature to us,” said Nyong’o. “What they are doing is making a huge difference in raising awareness on behalf of elephants, on behalf of wildlife, and on behalf of human beings, as well. It’s for our own good.”
Nyong’o has been a prominent advocate for elephant conservation, traveling to Kenya with WildAid in 2015 to publicize the threat of poaching and most recently partnering with WildAid on Discovery’s best-rated series, Serengeti, which follows the lives of Tanzania’s majestic animals.
Wildlife Champion, Fiddi Angermeyer owns Angermeyer Cruises, which has more than 30 years of experience in Galapagos Islands travel and is a world-class tourism operation that understands that conservation is good for business. In 2016, Angermeyer Cruises renamed their 173-foot luxury yacht to “WildAid’s Passion” and committed to donating proceeds from charters.
Special guest Djimon Hounsou gave the keynote speech, in which he praised African nations as stewards of some of the world’s remaining iconic wildlife.
“In my native country of Benin, we have one of the few remaining lion populations in the beautiful park of Pendjari. It is my deepest hope that Africa’s wildlife, which is part of our history and a deep part of our culture, continues to be an essential part of our future,” said Hounsou.
He also introduced Bonang Matheba (Queen B), a South African media personality, who will receive the E! People’s Choice Award for African Influencer of 2019.
Look to the Stars spoke to actor John Corbett, who explained that his passion for the organization started with his gal, Bo Derek:
“I have known about WildAid for 15 years now. I’ve been to 8 or 9 of their events. My gal Bo Derek is old friends with the founder, Peter Knights, who is-” Corbett paused, almost tearing up. “He’s one the most amazing people you’ll ever meet. He has literally dedicated his life to helping other creatures on this planet. He got involved in shark finning and rhino horns, and monkey-paw ashtrays, all these things we do to these sweet creatures for no good reason at all.”
When asked if he believes we are making a difference, he replied:
“I think so. It’s better than no one doing anything? It’s bringing awareness. They’ve raised millions and millions of dollars. They supply reserves where there might not be enough money to arm the guards that watch over elephants, a lot of money goes to that. So yeah, I mean, there’s always going to be poachers and people taking advantage, cutting the horns off a creature for soup they think might benefit them.”
One of the most most important aspects of the organization, which was highlighted all evening, was education.
“The great thing about WildAid is they are educating people,” CSI actress Eva LaRue told us. “The more you educate, the better you do.”
WildAid CEO, Peter Knights, gave an inspiring speech sharing “that Shark fin imports to China are down 80%. And both ivory and rhino horn process have been reduced by two-thirds.”
He went on to add that WildAid and Yao Ming were instrumental in 2017 in supporting China’s historic ban on domestic ivory sales, reducing prices for ivory down by two-thirds.
In Africa, WildAid works to strengthen wildlife conservation by building local public and political support for effective conservation.
In support of those efforts, Knights also announced the WildAid Africa Live Concert set for the summer of 2020 in Sun City, South Africa.
The highly anticipated wildlife conservation concert brings together Africa’s top musical talent, coming together to raise awareness for the continent’s incredible wildlife and to inspire a new generation of conservationists.
This year’s gala, “A Night in Africa,” featured musical entertainment, captivating performances from “The Cirque” and the Compton Kidz Club who had the crowd on their feet.
Gala attendees included Ashley Bell, John Corbett, Taylor Dayne, Bo Derek, Blake Freeman, Madison Hildebrand, Peter and Corie Knights, Eva LaRue, Jason Lewis, Louise Linton, Mena Massoud, AnnaLynne McCord, Thomas Middleditch, Carter Oosterhouse, Graham Phillips, Maggie Q, Eli Roth, Amy Smart, Jennifer Tilly, Jonathan Tucker, Sophia Esperanza and more.
Live Auction sponsors included Blue Marble Private, ROAR Africa, Angermeyer Cruises, Fine Art Photographer David Yarrow, Lindblad Expeditions, Misool Resort, Promontory and Meadowood Napa Valley, Meridian Adventure SAIL, Soneva, Elegance Brands Inc., and Natural World Safaris.
Gala sponsors included Elegance Brands Inc., Chantecaille, Moon Hollow Estate, and Kelleher International, all of whom support WildAid in its mission of wildlife conservation.
WildAid is one of the few charities to have a 4-star 100% star rating on Charity Navigator.
WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to end the illegal wildlife trade in our lifetimes. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn, and shark fin soup. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $230 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too. For more information, visit WildAid.org and follow us @WildAid.
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