Konichiwa! On September 24, 2016, a few dozen people gathered under a tent at Ueno Park in Tokyo for The Global March for Elephants and Rhinos – an event that took place in more than 130 cities around the world to raise awareness about poaching and the ivory/rhino horn trade. The March was organized on the first day of the CoP17 meetings in Johannesburg, where country leaders decided on regulations regarding the ivory trade and the protection level to be attributed to all elephant species. Conservation Voices could not miss such an event happening in Japan, so we jumped on a Shinkansen for Tokyo to meet the organizers and share their thoughts on the ivory issue.
Along with China and Thailand, Japan is another current major market for elephant ivory, using the material in everyday life, says Mrs. Airi Yamawaki – Tears of the African Elephant director and co-founder, and organizer of the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos in Tokyo.
Mrs. Yamawaki grew up and lived in South Africa for more than twenty years. As such, she says she has always been fascinated by wildlife. Working for the documentary film industry, she has also spent extensive time in Kenya, where – along with Asuka Takita, a wildlife veterinarian, they founded Tears of the African Elephant, an NGO based in Japan and Kenya to raise awareness about poaching and ivory consumption.
In this interview, Airi Yamawaki relates the situation in Japan regarding ivory consumption and the political issues concerning the proposed closure of all domestic ivory markets in the world at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii and at the CITES CoP17 meeting in Johannesburg.
We'd like to sincerely thank Airi Yamawaki for making time to talk to us at the Global March in Tokyo, and we look forward to having her talk about the ivory issue at future Conserv’Session screenings at Kyoto University.
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Photo Credit: Cecile Sarabian / Airi Yamawaki