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Save the elephant campaigns by two Hong Kong teenagers draw praise from Chelsea Clinton in new book

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 September, 2015, 10:11am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 September, 2016, 4:59pm

Two Hong Kong teenagers who took up the fight against ivory trading to save endangered elephants have been praised by Chelsea Clinton in a book by the former US president’s daughter.

The new book, titled It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going!, draws attention to global problems, using real-life stories to show how people can make a difference.

Some of the topics covered by Clinton, whose father Bill was president from 1993 to 2001 and mother Hillary is a leading Democrat presidential nominee, include food insecurity, gender equality and endangered species.

Hong Kong International School pupil Nellie Shute, 13, won plaudits for her campaign work, including persuading her school to stop using ivory for educational purposes. She was a driving force in gathering 60,000 signatures calling for Hong Kong to destroy its stockpile of seized illegal ivory – something the government agreed to last year.

“[It’s] likely more people paid attention to Nellie’s efforts because she was young and passionate,” Clinton noted.

“Through all her efforts, Nellie helped bring more awareness to the threat that elephant poaching – and ivory demand – are to the elephant’s survival.”

Shute said young people could be inspired by the book. “There are many different causes they can choose ... it encourages them to get motivated and do something,” she said.

“A lot of people sit around and say ‘Oh this is a problem in the world, why doesn’t someone do something about it? I can’t I’m too young’ but hopefully this book ... shows they can do something about it.”

READ MORE: Hong Kong urged to buy new carbon-dating technology to hit ivory poachers, but activists demand outright ban

The Clinton Global Initiative in 2013 joined forces with green groups to target the chief drivers of poaching. The organisation funded programmes to stop elephant killings, prevent trafficking and halt demand for ivory.

Now 17, Celia Ho Yen-kei, triggered a campaign calling for Hong Kong to cut its ivory demand and urged governments to take action against poaching. Receiving a nod from Clinton, Ho said the praise strengthened her belief that young voices have potential to influence others and highlight global issues.

Despite facing threats following her campaigning – including a letter sent to her school – she continued undeterred and even drafted former basketball star Yao Ming to support anti-ivory initiatives in China.

“I hope every young reader will be motivated to step up whenever they see the suffering of a person, or a minority group; an animal, or a species; a tree, or a forest,” said Ho, who is currently based in Italy for high school.

READ MORE: Elephants are dying because of Hong Kong’s failure to tackle illegal ivory trade, report says

An investigation by WWF Hong Kong found that ivory traders were profiting from a thriving trade in illegal elephant tusks by exploiting loopholes in the city’s licensing system.