As one of China’s leading animal welfare advocates, Grace Ge Gabriel has directed global campaigns to protect wildlife in Asia and around the world.
Ge Gabriel began her career in the media, but after documenting the rescue of nine Asiatic black bears from bile extractors holding them captive in southern China, she gave up her career in television to work for organizations committed to wildlife rescue.
Today, she is the International Fund for Animal Welfare, or IFAW, Regional Director of Asia.
As a driving force behind IFAW China since its inception, Ge Gabriel has worked fervently to reduce the commercial exploitation of wildlife, increase law enforcement against wildlife crimes, and change consumer attitudes about products from endangered animals.
Ge Gabriel said she was astonished to learn that many consumers did not realize the slaughters that are committed to obtain ivory. This realization motivated her to implement imperative educational campaigns through IFAW.
“In 2007, IFAW did a survey to find out people’s misconceptions about elephants and ivory trade. We found that 70 percent of the Chinese didn’t even know that ivory comes from dead elephants,” she said. “So based on this understanding we have introduced a series of education campaigns to raise awareness.”
Ge Gabriel has also testified before the European Union Commission and the U.K. Parliament Environmental Audit Committee on topics including global wildlife crime and protection.
As an instrumental champion for wildlife protection, Ge Gabriel was also featured in Julie Scardina and Jeffrey Flocken’s book, “Wildlife Heroes: 40 Leading Conservationists and the Animals They are Committed to Saving.”
Through her experiences, she has learned that although government intervention is necessary to stop the actual poachers, raising awareness is the key to averting the demand for ivory.
“In 2013, five years after launching our awareness-raising campaign, we decided to evaluate it and we were very happy to find that our ads had penetrated 75 percent of the urban Chinese population and reduced the segment of people most likely to purchase ivory from 54 percent to 26 percent,” Ge Gabriel said. “So this showed me that people can be moved. Chinese people are not prejudice against elephants and if you explain to them the impact of their ivory-consuming behavior to elephants, they will move.”
Ge Gabriel joined Mike Walter to explain the detrimental impacts of ivory poaching on elephant populations and how her experiences with IFAW China demonstrate the influence that consumer education and engagement can have on the future of illegal poaching and wildlife crimes.
Visit www.IFAW.org for more information about Grace’s work.