Oscar Winner Back in Kenya and Becoming Global Elephant Ambassador

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Star of “12 Years a Slave” urges an end to the global ivory trade Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o has returned to her native Kenya and announced today that she will advocate globally for elephants with international conservation organization WildAid, as well as promote women’s issues, acting and the arts in Kenya.

“I am proud of my Kenyan heritage, and part of that heritage is the incredible wildlife haven that is in our care,” Ms. Nyong’o said at a Tuesday press conference in Nairobi. “I have come to realize that when you know more, you do more. I want to encourage people all over the world to learn more about these incredible animals. From reading a conservation website like WildAid.org to visiting one of the many, unforgettable, world-class national parks. I ask the world to end the current elephant poaching crisis by being ‘Ivory Free.’ It is time to ban sales of ivory worldwide and to consign the tragedy of the ivory trade to history.”

Ms. Nyong’o spent time in Amboseli National Park with the Amboseli Trust for Elephants and at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s elephant orphanage, meeting with local conservationists and filming messages for international distribution in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, China, Hong Kong, Thailand and the United States. These messages are designed to raise awareness of the elephant-poaching crisis and to reduce the demand for ivory in consuming markets. Ms. Nyongo also met with Kenya-based African Wildlife Foundation and Save the Elephants who partner on these projects, as well as representatives of Wildlife Direct, and Ol Pejeta and Lewa Conservancies — all groups active in combatting poaching in Kenya.

“Brave and dedicated people are giving their lives to protect our elephants,” Ms. Nyong’o said. “They need all of our support, from people in the United States and Asia by not buying ivory, and from Kenyans in supporting anti-poaching by reporting wildlife crime. Poaching undermines national security and endangers jobs and community support derived from tourism.”

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