National Geographic
Menu

A Young Voice for Elephants: Celia Ho

“I take every chance to share my campaign and the difficulties elephants are facing,” says Celia Ho, a 14-year-old student from Hong Kong who launched a campaign to stop ivory consumption after reading Bryan Christy’s “Blood Ivory” article in National Geographic. Her young voice represents a new hope for elephants that is increasing throughout Asia, while her story illustrates how one person can make a difference.

Celia’s campaign comprises three facets. First, she hopes to draw ivory consumers’ attention to the plight of elephants in order to reduce ivory demand. Secondly, she focuses on educating young people about the illegal ivory trade, especially in China, because they have the greatest possibility to become future ivory consumers. Lastly, she wants to expand international attention on the issue. Already she has support from Jane Goodall, who has nicknamed her “The Elephant Girl,” as well as from over 40 other organizations.

However, Celia’s real hope is for other young people to take action. To her, young voices can be powerful and a very effective way to affect ivory consumers because “parents listen to what their children have to say.”

“Everyone has his or her power, which is very influential,” she explains. “They can make good use of their social network, by maybe writing a status on Facebook or sending a letter to newspapers, just like I have done.”

The following interview with Laurel Neme tells Celia’s story. You can listen to the entire conversation at Laurel Neme: The Wildlife Radio. To learn more about Celia’s campaign, visit her website Celia’s Corner and her Facebook page The Elephant Girl: Celia Ho.

Celia’s Campaign

Laurel Neme: What got you interested in elephants?

Celia Ho: I started to be interested in elephants when I first read the cover story written by Bryan Christy in National Geographic. It inspired me a lot. And I have also comprehended the troubles elephants are facing. That is why I started my campaign, to help them get out of this inhuman trench.

Celia-Ho-pictureLaurel Neme: Why are the elephants important to you?

Celia Ho: Firstly, I love elephants very much. That is one of the reasons why they are important to me. I love them because they are very intelligent animals. They have many emotions as well. They have a strong bond with one another. Actually, it was their character that has moved me to try to help them [as well as] the difficulties they are facing.

Laurel Neme: What is your campaign to help elephants?

Celia Ho: We are working on the first step: spreading the idea of an ivory ban. There are basically three parts of [my campaign]. The first part is drawing ivory consumers’ attention so that the demand for ivory can be reduced. And the second part is educating young people, especially in China, because they have the greatest possibility to become future ivory consumers. The last part is drawing international attention on this ivory trade issue.

Laurel Neme: Are your friends now interested in the issue?

Celia Ho: Yes, some of them are very interested in what I have been doing. I was very glad to explain the whole thing once again to them because I also got their supportiveness in return. Although some of them did not respond much, I thought this would be a special opportunity for them to understand the urgent needs of elephants.

Laurel Neme: How are parents taking your campaign, including your own parents? Do they use ivory?

Celia Ho: Actually, ivory can only be bought by rich people, and I and most of my friends are not very rich to afford this kind of luxury product. [My parents and my friends’ parents] support everything.

Laurel Neme: Going back to your campaign, what are you doing to reduce demand for ivory and draw attention to this issue?

Celia Ho: I tried different methods. For example, I have written many status [updates] on public platforms and social networks. I also write some letters to newspapers so they can publish my letters and help the idea spread. Because … [my message] may not reach my target [ivory consumers] by these kinds of methods, [I also focus on] the third part [of my campaign], which is letting their children, the young people, influence them. Educating young people is a very effective way to influence the consumers because parents pay more attention to what their children say.

Laurel Neme: What are you doing with young people?

Celia Ho: The easiest method is approaching my classmates, of course, because we are friends already. I take every chance to share my campaign and the difficulties elephants are facing to them during school days. In addition to my friends at school, I also pay attention to friends that are in other social circles. Because everyone has many friends, that’s why I’m trying to ask all of my friends to help spread the idea. Then the power is going to [be] very powerful.

Laurel Neme: How are you reaching other schools?

Celia Ho: The first step is approaching schools in Hong Kong, because Hong Kong is an international city and it is also very near to China. I have approached three or four schools in Hong Kong, including mine, and I’m looking forward to approach more and more in China, because China is the place where huge demand is located.

Laurel Neme: What has been the reaction when you approach the schools?

Celia Ho: Honestly, some of them didn’t reply much. I was not surprised because this issue is not popular enough and my campaign is also not popular enough. But I will keep trying by showing them how important and urgent this issue is. And I am sure they are going to join us finally.

Laurel Neme: How did you get the attention of Jane Goodall and various organizations, including Eco-Sys Action, who have been helping you?

Celia Ho: I have to tell the story from scratch. I first sent a letter to the South China Morning Post, which is about the ivory ban. I did not expect any feedback. But it was surprising to see. A man called Christian Pilard [Founder and President of Eco-Sys Action] wrote back to me through the South China Morning Post by letter. I remember that day was a school day, and I just read the newspaper, just like I used to do, and it was very surprising to see so many supporting me and encouraging me.

Their support also came along with many encouraging and positive words, which has spirited me up a lot because I know that I am never alone. There are so many people worldwide working on this issue. And our power is very powerful because we are all united.

Laurel Neme: What can people do to help?

Celia Ho: Everyone has his or her power, which is very influential. They can make good use of their social network, by maybe writing a status on Facebook or sending a letter to newspapers, just like I have done. They can also educate people around them and their parents, because they all have the possibility to become ivory consumers. Young people’s voices can be heard easily, and they are always noticed by others. I think their voices can be much more powerful than grown ups.

I hope everyone can pay more attention to the farmers and the wildlife because most of them are facing difficulties caused by humans, development, or activities. I hope everyone can develop a sense of caring to our Earth by maybe reading more National Geographic to know more about our Earth in order to have a desire to help solve the problems we are now facing.

Comments

  1. Corinne
    Washington state
    September 24, 2013, 1:20 pm

    Dear Celia, What you are doing for the elephants is very important! Thank you for your passion and commitment! Corinne

  2. John Nez
    United States
    April 26, 2013, 11:15 am

    Great idea! I think it would be good if pop stars and movie stars came out to support this ivory ban. Imagine if Brad Pitt or Psy came out with their pictures on ads to say ‘Wearing Ivory is NOT cool!’.

    I’m a children’s book artist and author. Let me know if you need any graphics to go along with your campaign. I’d be glad to help.

    http://www.johnnez.com

  3. Stacy James
    Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
    April 12, 2013, 10:51 pm

    Thank you Celia,
    I’m going to share this with school children in the United States. Thank you for educating your community on the devastating results of purchasing ivory. We are so happy to have your partnership! http://www.dazzleafrica.org

  4. Alison Pearson
    zambia
    March 25, 2013, 7:37 pm

    Celia, I would like to reproduce this article in a local Zambian newspaper and also try to link you up with some local schools or interested children in Zambia where we are losing elephants every year to China. If your article could also speak to the Chinese in Zambia who are financing the killing maybe that would also help stir their consciences.
    Let’s see what we can do.

  5. Jenny Horvath
    California, USA (born in South Africa)
    March 20, 2013, 12:47 am

    Dear, dear Celia… thank you, thank you, thank you! In desperate and dark times you give me hope for the voice of elephants to be heard in China. They are such beautiful sensitive Beings, these elephants of the world, the so deserve to live, intact, as families.

  6. Frits van den Esschert
    the Netherlands
    March 4, 2013, 11:30 pm

    Sweet and Dear Celia ; how wonderfull to see your truly Great Heart in this , its at least Elephant size I think!!!….fabulous to see youth so involved for the Elephant`s sake ; it gives me great hope for a Brighter and Better future for all ……for its the next generation that can truly DO something…..I thank you sooo much and KEEP UP THE SPIRITS!!!!…

  7. Singer Rankin
    USA
    March 2, 2013, 6:33 pm

    Dear Celia,
    I am veery involved in anti poaching efforts thru Save the Elephants in Kenya. We have done a short film “The Ivory Crisis in Mandarin which is on Chinese YouKu
    http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNDY0MjE1NDY0.html.
    We are doing 3 more one for children and you would be a wonderful source for how to get them shown in China. I would very much like to contact you!
    Singer Rankin
    http://www.worldwomenwork.org/

  8. Shelley-Ann
    Canada
    March 1, 2013, 1:36 am

    You give me hope Celia as my heart breaks to see what is happening to these amazing creations. The violence has to stop but when …when there are no more elephants? You give me hope.

  9. Raymond Fritz
    Johannesburg South Africa
    February 25, 2013, 10:01 am

    Dear Celia,

    What makes your message so important is that you deliver it in the language of those who need to hear it. Thank you for being so brave to stand up and be heard. I hope you get a chance to see a wild tusked elephant in person while visiting the continent.

    Xi-xi
    Raymond

  10. katie losey
    new york city
    February 22, 2013, 9:33 pm

    Hope.

  11. Liz Roesler
    Milwaukee,WI USA
    February 22, 2013, 6:36 pm

    Thank you for your efforts Celia !! Lets hope the world will realize how special Elephants are, that poaching will stop, and that the Ivory sales will stop ! Than you again !!

  12. Sarah Skinner
    France
    February 22, 2013, 5:58 pm

    Weldone Celia, keep up the good work. Lets hope you make a difference and can reach out and educate the young and old in Hong Kong and China. The elephants really need your help and fast. Thank you.

  13. nakayla
    trenton nj
    February 22, 2013, 11:42 am

    Dear Celia, i think you made a point and i think you can make a difference between earth and animals! Thank you so much gracias senorita! i speak spanish

  14. Debra Goble
    507 South Vance St Landis NC
    February 22, 2013, 8:39 am

    Save these animals Please

  15. Joanne
    February 22, 2013, 7:09 am

    CELIA HO ROCKS! YOU GO GIRL! YOU WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE in this world. All we need is intelligent, assertive and ambitious people to kick in and help!

  16. Hema Desai
    Zambia
    February 22, 2013, 6:27 am

    Dear Celia HO….Thank you very much for your efforts. Please continue doing so…Africa needs many Cilia to save the elephants…Thank you.