Vosloo takes a stand for animal rights

Published Sep 7, 2006


By Hannah Roberts

Home-grown acting talent and star of The Mummy, Arnold Vosloo, has signed up as spokesman for a campaign to save endangered species from becoming victims of the tourist trade in animal parts.

The local actor, who will star opposite Leonardo di Caprio later this year in the South African filmed Blood Diamond, has joined the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) to launch a project to discourage tourists from buying souvenirs made from wild animals.

"As a person lucky enough to have been born in South Africa with its abundance of fauna and flora, I am passionate about conservation and the environment", said Vosloo.

Souvenirs readily available on the Cape Town market include shark's teeth, elephant hair bracelets, elephant footstools and fur from lions and cheetahs.

"South Africa's wildlife is literally up for sale," said Ifaw spokesperson Christina Pretorius. "The range and variety of goods made from wildlife are breathtaking."

Illegal products like pigmy crocodiles from West Africa, made into handbags, can be seen openly in Greenmarket Square, she said.

"Most tourists are not aware of the thousands of animals killed each year to make souvenirs.

"The problem is no one can tell whether an ivory object is from a poached animal or one that was legally culled."

When tourists get back to Europe, these objects may get confiscated as a permit is needed to leave South Africa with ivory.

"Tourists are unaware of this and unscrupulous traders usually just omit to tell the buyer," said Pretorius.

When poachers are after skins, the big cats often suffer tremendously as they are caught in gin-traps or poisoned with organophosphates, she said.

Vosloo first became aware of the man-made perils facing animals while working directly with the elephants on Circles In A Forest, a film about the extinction of the Knysna elephants, he said.

He and his wife are now ardent conservationists and work with a number of environmental NGOs.

Although the couple live in Los Angeles, they both spend as much time as possible in South Africa, said Pretorius.

Vosloo stars in the fourth series of popular television drama 24.

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