In this episode, I’m talking with Peter Knights. After graduating from the London School of Economics, Peter first worked on wildlife trafficking as an investigator and campaigner for the Environmental Investigation Agency. He specialized in global on-site investigations and campaigning against the trade in wild birds for pets, as well as consumption of endangered species. In 1996, as a director of the Global Survival Network, he introduced conservation to the concept of demand reduction, that is now widely accepted as an important tool in solving trafficking problems. Peter is currently the Founder and President of WildAid. WildAid’s demand reduction program uses sophisticated advertising techniques, donated airtime, and celebrity spokespeople with the message “When the buying stops, the killing can too.”
In this conversation, we talk about Peter’s early days in conservation, how he came to see demand reduction as a powerful tool in stopping the illegal wildlife trade, the beginnings of WildAid, and Peter’s first campaign with his longtime ambassador, Jackie Chan. We dive into the WildAid’s campaigns to reduce the demand of ivory and rhino horn. We discuss WildAid’s successful partnership with the Chinese government. We talk about the over 100 ambassadors who have appeared in campaigns, including Yao Ming’s contribution to WildAid’s campaigns and documentaries. There are so many legend stories, and so much passion for conservation in this episode.