Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

NaBloPoM0 11: Eleven-year-old student in Hong Kong faces down the government

NaBloPoMo_November_smallYesterday, I posted a story about 10-year-old Liva Adelstrop of Bali who took on the challenge of cleaning up the pollution in our oceans: Can One 10-Year-Old Girl Save Our Oceans?

Today’s story features Nellie Shute, an 11-year-old Hong Kong International School (HKIS), Upper Primary School student (grade 6), who takes on illegal trade in ivory. (HKIS is an American international school.)

The South China Morning Post published this article about the situation: “Hong Kong International School removes ivory after pupil’s complaint,” by Danny Lee.

6th grade student, Nellie Shute, with Upper Primary School Principal, Bruce Kelsh. Phto: Michal Garcia

6th grade student, Nellie Shute, with HKIS Upper Primary School Principal, Bruce Kelsh. Phto: Michal Garcia

In an effort to educate children about illegal-hunting and trading in ivory and how this endangers elephants, the Hong Kong government loaned tusks and artifacts from its stockpile of confiscated ivory to schools to put on display.

But eleven-year-old Nellie Shute objected to the artifacts being on display in her school and asked her school’s administration to return the artifacts to the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department HKAFCD), contending that the artifacts in the schools did not serve their intended purpose.

Wisely, the school complied and returned the ivory pieces to the HKAFCD where they were placed back in the stockpile of confiscated, illegally hunted and imported ivory.

And look at how much attention has been given to this polite protest by Nellie Shute: an article has appeared in the South China Morning Post, news of this article has been tweeted numerous times on Twitter, the article link has been posted and reposted on Facebook, and blog posts have been written about it. No doubt other news services will pick up the story and repeat it.

Nellie’s protest is bringing world-wide attention to the animal poaching problem. Perhaps the Hong Kong’s government practice of loaning ivory artifacts to schools for education is having some positive effects after all, all thanks to an 11-year-old who wanted to make a difference and spoke up about something she thought was inappropriate.

How big is the trade in illegal ivory?
In this past year alone, Hong Kong customs officials have seized and stockpiled 26 tons of ivory.  But confiscating illegal ivory imports and stockpiling is not enough, according to critics, and evidently has not curtailed illegal hunting and importing of ivory. Many animal rights activists and conservationists believe that destroying the stockpiled ivory would deter further illegal killing of elephants.

Changing the World. One Student at A Time
Liva Adelstorp of Bali (yesterday’s post) reminded us of this Margaret Mead quote:

 “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Nellie Shute and Liva Adelstorp prove this saying to be true. Many thanks to them for speaking out boldly for their beliefs.

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