UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Li Bingbing Uses Sculpture to Highlight Plight of Asian Elephant

Li Bingbing's elephant sculpture (3rd from the left) on display in California

Nairobi, 28 August 2013 - Global film star Li Bingbing, the UN Environment Programme's National Goodwill Ambassador for China, has joined dozens of other celebrities and artists to create a sculpture highlighting the plight of the Asian elephant for an art exhibition.

The actress had already joined UNEP in its campaign to reduce demand for ivory, which has led to the decimation of elephant herds in Africa and Asia.

BingBing took time out from shooting her latest film to join the Elephant Parade, which asks artists to design and hand paint a life-size model of a baby elephant for display in open-air exhibitions.

Bingbing's elephant, which is being displayed in Dana Point, California, is a sad-eyed baby painted with a tree from which exactly 100 apricot flowers bloom-symbolizing freedom of thought and expression.

The Asian elephant population is believed to have shrunk to less than 3,500, from 35,000 in 1960. The situation in Africa is just as grim. Earlier this year, Bingbing travelled to Kenya to highlight the recent spike in poaching in Africa.

"Many consumers in Asia do not realize that by buying ivory, they are playing a role in the illegal wildlife trade and its serious consequences," she said during the trip. "As global citizens, we need to take responsibility by learning more about the potential impacts of our lifestyle choices."

Data from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) monitoring programme 'Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants' (MIKE), shows that 17,000 elephants were illegally killed in 2011.

MIKE covers areas home to around 40 per cent of African elephants, meaning the true figures may well be even higher. Indications are that the number of elephants killed in 2012 ran into the tens of thousands.

Demand for illegal ivory remains highest in the rapidly growing economies of Asia, particularly China. Large-scale seizures of ivory destined for Asia have doubled since 2009.

The visit to Kenya marked the first overseas engagement for Li Bingbing, recently named 'Asian Star of the Year' by Variety magazine, in her role as Goodwill Ambassador for UNEP.

A dedicated environmental campaigner, Li Bingbing founded the L.O.V.E Green Movement in 2009 which encourages Chinese citizens to adopt resource-efficient, low-carbon lifestyles.

She has extensively promoted the Think.Eat.Save: Reduce Your Foodprint campaign by UNEP and partners across social media networks in China. The campaign aims to reduce food waste and food loss worldwide.