Manchester City star Yaya Toure becomes UN Ambassador

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Manchester City star Yaya Toure today pledged to combat the illegal ivory trade that sees thousands of African elephants slaughtered each year. The international footballer was unveiled as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Yaya Toure joins the roster of other Goodwill Ambassadors—Brazilian supermodel and wife to New England Patriots QB Tom Brady Gisele Bündchen, US actor Don Cheadle, Chinese actress Li Binging, French photographer Yann Arthus Bertrand and Indian economist Pavan Sukhdev—to help generate public awareness and understanding of environmental causes.

Yaya Toure, African Footballer of the Year in 2011 and 2012 and an inspirational figure for Manchester City and his national side Côte d’Ivoire, travelled to the headquarters of UNEP in Nairobi, Kenya—a country that is facing a massive spike in poaching—to accept his nomination.

“Côte d’Ivoire’s national team is named ‘The Elephants’ after these magnificent creatures that are so full of power and grace, yet in my country alone there may be as few as 800 individuals left,” Yaya Toure said.

“Poaching threatens the very existence of the African elephant and if we do not act now we could be looking at a future in which this iconic species is wiped out.”

“I became a UNEP Goodwill Ambassador to spread the message that this poaching—and other forms of wildlife crime—is not only a betrayal of our responsibility to safeguard threatened species, but a serious threat to the security, political stability, economy, natural resources and cultural heritage of many countries,” he added.

Increased poaching and loss of habitats are decimating African elephant populations—especially in Central African countries—according to a report entitled “Elephants in the Dust – The African Elephant Crisis”, released in Bangkok in March at the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Yaya Toure has already demonstrated his commitment to tackling this issue. In September this year, Yaya Toure and other players at a World Cup qualifier between Côte d’Ivoire and Morocco—viewed by tens of millions across the globe—held up slogans to raise awareness of the killings of elephants and other wildlife.

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He’s also a regular analyst on news talk radio stations across the world; with weekly segments on NBC and Fox Sports Radio. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks) and RSS

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