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Kristin Davis isn’t just saying no to ivory, she’s taken to calling it the “new blood diamond.” The actress, best known for playing Charlotte Goldenblatt (née York) on HBO’s Sex and the City, became the very public face of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust on Friday when she hosted a black-tie dinner in London to fete the charity’s new anti-ivory campaign. The story of how she came to be involved in wildlife conservation is worthy of its own television special. Davis was holidaying in Kenya in 2010 when a Masaai elder waved down her truck to solicit help in locating a lost baby elephant.

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After two days of searching, the rescuers came upon the animal, later named Chaimu after the lava rocks where she was found. “She kept trying to charge us, she was so traumatized and angry,” David told the Guardian. “We had to cover her eyes and tie her feet, you feel so horrible but you know you’re helping them, and wet her skin down because she was so hot. She had been eating dirt so her digestive system was all messed up, and you can’t feed them water when they are lying down in case it gets in their lungs so eventually we had to get her up and un-blindfold her so she could drink with her trunk in the proper way, and then we had to carry her on a people stretcher which was kind of hysterical.”

“Ivory is basically a blood diamond,” Davis said. “If you buy it, you’re buying the new blood diamonds.”

Placed in the care of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Chiamu found a new home at the Tsavo National Park. The experience left an indelible impression on Davis, who became a patron of Trust soon after.

Elephant poaching in Africa, once thought to be on the downswing, is rapidly approaching the worst levels since the 1980s. The underground ivory trade has increasingly become militarized, according to the New York Times, wiping out tens of thousands of elephants a year and filling the coffers of some of Africa’s most infamous armed groups, including the People’s Liberation Army in Sudan, the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, and Janjaweed raiders in Darfur. Organized crime syndicates link up with them to move ivory around the world, mostly to China, where the price of ivory can exceed $1,000 per pound on the streets of Beijing.

“Ivory is basically a blood diamond,” Davis said. “If you buy it, you’re buying the new blood diamonds.”

The Trust’s “iWorry: Say No to Ivory” campaign aims to change this by persuading the 2013 meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, better known as CITES, to prevent African governments from profiting from elephant tusks.

Davis is already planning her 14-month-old daughter’s first trip to Kenya. “I figure if I’m going to mess her sleep up it should be for something really good. Kids go to the nursery all the time and they love it,” she said. “Little elephants are so cute and they play soccer, and they get in the mud.”

+ iWorry: Say No to Ivory

+ David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

[Via Guardian]