Juliette recently conducted an interview with her new friend and fellow elephant advocate, Celia Ho, a 14-year old student in Hong Kong. Celia is doing an amazing job of spreading awareness about the ivory trade amongst schools. We hope you enjoy learning about what a passionate teenager can accomplish! You can also check out Celia’s website.
Juliette: Are you the first of your friends to become aware of this issue?
Celia: Yes, I think I am the first one but I am sure I will not be the only one. Conservation issues may not be a hit topic among teenagers in Hong Kong as most of our daily lives revolve around studies, revision, internet…… They may not have enough effort and time to learn about different environmental and conservation issues but I am sure they will develop a sense of caring and an interest in the nature once they have experienced how beautiful it is.
Juliette: How have your friends responded to your involvement in this cause?
Celia: I was glad that some of them showed great interest in what I have been doing so I explained the whole thing to them in detail, then I received many supportive responses which have spirited me up a lot. To draw more attention, I grasped chances to share my involvement and the imminent extinction faced by elephants with my friends. Though most of them did not reply much, I believe that it could be a spark or even a start for them to care about elephants.
Juliette: How did you become aware and why did you want to help?
Celia: My inspiration was the cover story ‘Blood Ivory’ written by Bryan Christy in the October 2012 edition of National Geographic. This insight story has sparked my anger and awareness which drove me to write a letter about rampant ivory demand to South China Morning Post, and that was the beginning of my campaign. As the problem exacerbates, my desire to help grows.
Juliette: What do you like about elephants? And have you ever seen one in person before?
Celia: I love their eyes! Elephants have got intelligent eyes which express feelings just like human beings! Another thing I like about elephants is the strong bond among them. That is why when you kill an elephant, not only the slaughtered suffers, but also its family. (In some cases the whole family was massacred.) I have never seen one in person before but I have to in the future. Hope they will still be there.
Juliette: What are your goals that you hope to achieve as an activist?
Celia: My main goal is to stop ivory trade as soon as possible otherwise we could never see elephants in person again. Meanwhile, I hope Asians especially people in China could develop a more environmentally-friendly way to live a life in every aspect. For example, in addition to stop buying ivory, stop releasing toxic chemicals to rivers or seas. Actually our earth is not the only victim, humans are suffering too.
Juliette: What role do you think young people can play in spreading awareness about the ivory trade?
Celia: Young people can act as inspirations because young voices are much easier to be heard and noticed, maybe a status on Facebook, a letter to newspaper or CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), or a blog post can be very influential already as things easily go viral in the internet. Another role is educating other young Asian people who may influence their parents not to buy ivory in softer and more effective ways. Can you imagine how powerful it is when the young ones gather together?
Juliette: What is one thing you hope every person can know about the ivory trade?
Celia: I hope every person can understand that one of the most effective ways to stop ivory trade is making yourself a spark to ban ivory trade. If there is a spark near an ivory consumer, he may notice how brutal his act is from your words and stop buying anymore. Then owning ivory will not be a kind of status recognition but a symbol of inhumanity. At last, I would like to tell everybody you have the power to stop the bloodshed!
Juliette: What is your biggest challenge besides stopping the ivory trade when you are working on your campaign?
Celia: The biggest challenge is striking a balance between the campaign and my studies which are both very important for me. The campaign is undoubtedly very urgent as elephants are nearly extinct, and the opportunity to study my favorite subjects (biology and chemistry) depends on my results at school. (I would be depressed to learn things that I dislike at all.) Fortunately, I think I have struggled through the hard times as I am kind of adapted to the circumstance and things are getting easier somehow.
Juliette: What are the consequences and influence of ivory trade?
Celia: There will be a ‘lose-lose situation’ to both the environment and humans. Since elephants play a crucial role in the eco-system and the food chain, their extinction may lead to many further problem. Besides, not only elephants are killed in the trade, but also rangers who risk their lives to defend elephants and rhinos from poachers. In some cases, money gained from the trade is then used to purchase weapons in Africa’s various conflicts. Another thing I am worrying is that when the hunger of ivory collectors is rampantly satisfied, they may target other animals when there is no more ivory available.
Juliette: What have you learnt or gained through your campaign?
Celia: Working on this issue has brought me a lot of friends in the field from different parts of the world but they all have the same enthusiasm to make the earth a better place for the coexistence of humans, the wildlife and the environment. My horizons on different environmental problem have also been broadened through talking with them.
Juliette: Thank you, Celia! It is inspiring to learn about everything you are doing. I hope more young people will follow your example and make their voices heard too.
Celia: Thank you Juliette.