Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o posing with elephants in Kenya.

Lupita Nyong'o in Kenya to champion conservation of elephants and to promote women's issues.

Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o returned to her native home, Kenya, and announced that she will advocate for elephants globally with international conservation organization WildAid, as well as promote women’s issues, acting and the arts in Kenya.

Catch her in action as a flight attendant in Liam Neeson's thriller Non-Stop on Tuesday, 7 July at 19:00 on M-Net.

“I am proud of my Kenyan heritage, and part of that heritage is the incredible wildlife haven that is in our care,” Lupita said. “I have come to realise that when you know more, you do more. I want to encourage people all over the world to learn more about these incredible animals. From reading a conservation website like WildAid.org to visiting one of the many, unforgettable, worldclass National Parks. I ask the world to end the current elephant-poaching crisis by being ‘Ivory Free'. It is time to ban sales of ivory worldwide and to consign the tragedy of the ivory trade to history.”



Lupita spent time in Amboseli National Park with the Amboseli Trust for Elephants and at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s elephant orphanage, meeting with local conservationists and filming messages for international distribution in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, China, Hong Kong, Thailand and the United States. These messages are designed to raise awareness of the elephant-poaching crisis and to reduce the demand for ivory in consuming markets. Lupita also met with Kenya-based African Wildlife Foundation and Save the Elephants who partner on these projects, as well as representatives of the Wildlife Direct, and Ol Pejeta and Lewa Wildlife Conservancies — all groups active in combatting poaching in Kenya.

“Brave and dedicated people are giving their lives to protect our elephants,” Lupita said. “They need all of our support, from people in the United States and Asia by not buying ivory, and from Kenyans in supporting anti-poaching by reporting wildlife crime. Poaching undermines national security and endangers jobs and community support derived from tourism.”

At a Tuesday press conference in Nairobi, a film was shown of Lupita as a young girl singing for the elephants, as well as some highlights of her trip, which will later be used for television, radio, social media, newspapers, magazines and billboards with the message in Africa that “Poaching steals from us all,” and in Asia and the US that “When the buying stops, the killing can too.”

Lupita joins a host of international icons including Jackie Chan, Yao Ming, Edward Norton, Prince William and David Beckham who are featured in the campaigns. WildAid and the African Wildlife Foundation plan to recruit more prominent Kenyans to join the campaign locally when it launches next year.

WildAid CEO Peter Knights said: “There has been a 50% increase in awareness of elephant poaching in China in the last two years, 95% of Chinese surveyed support a ban on ivory sales, and the government recently announced a phase-out of legal ivory sales. Kenya has passed new stricter laws and is cracking down through the courts. So there is some light at the end of the tunnel for elephants, and we hope Lupita can help us all secure their future.”

To see Lupita her Academy Award-winning role as Patsey, keep it M-Net to catch 12 Years a Slave on Saturday, 1 August at 21:55.