Rick Grimes and his zombie SWAT team are back in front of the camera, only this time the “hordes of relentless killers” they’re facing are driven not by human flesh but by profit. The cast of AMC’s hit drama The Walking Dead is starring in a new nationwide campaign to raise awareness about the illegal wildlife trade. An offshoot of the White House National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking, #StopWildlifeTrafficking is a joint effort between San Francisco nonprofit WildAid and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with the support of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In one of a number of public service announcements that rolling out across broadcast and social-media channels this month, Andrew Lincoln (who plays Rick), Danai Gurira (Michonne), Norman Reedus (Daryl), Michael Cudlitz (Abraham), Melissa McBride (Carol), Steven Yuen (Glenn), and Lauren Cohan (Maggie) denounce the trafficking of illegal wildlife products such as rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory.
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“It’s not a fictional future,” Reedus says in the video spot. “They are here…now,” adds McBride.
Around the world, wildlife trafficking is worth an estimated $10 to $20 billion per year, making it one of the world’s largest illicit trades after illegal drugs, arms, and human trafficking, WildAid said in a statement.
According to a poll commissioned by WildAid, 80 percent of Americans have little to no knowledge about illegal wildlife trade within the country.
Although the United States is a “chief consumer” of wildlife products, both legal and illegal, a recent poll commissioned by the organization found that 80 percent of Americans have little to no knowledge about illegal wildlife trade within the country.
In fact, travelers are often unaware that they may be bringing prohibited items into the United States.
“This is our fight as global citizens, because the choices we make here at home—and in our travels around the world—have a direct impact on the wellbeing of wild populations of elephants, rhinos, tigers, and many other imperiled species,” said Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “This campaign drives that message home. Our choices—your choices—matter.”
Other celebrity ambassadors for #StopWildlife Trafficking include Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy), Maggie Q, (Nikita), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, Keegan Allen (Pretty Little Liars), Taylor Kitsch (True Detective), David Beckham, and Prince William.
“Americans should learn and care about where our purchases come from and the origins of the products,” said Peter Knights, CEO of WildAid. “An ounce of awareness could save species.”