Soccer star Yaya Touré pledges to combat illegal ivory trade

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Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director (l) with Yaya Touré (r) during the designation ceremony

International football star, Yaya Touré from Cote d'Ivoire on Tuesday pledged to help combat the illegal ivory trade that causes the deaths of thousands of African elephants.

Touré, African Footballer of the Year in 2011 and 2012 made the pledge as he was designated Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) based in Nairobi, Kenya.

The soccer star for Manchester City and his national side Côte d'Ivoire travelled to Nairobi to accept his nomination in a country that is facing a massive increase in poaching.

He said Cote d'Ivoire's national team 'The Elephants' is named after "these magnificent creatures that are so full of power and grace" yet there may be as few as 800 left.

According to UN estimates, more than 17,000 elephants were illegally killed in monitored sites in Africa in 2011 alone, but overall figures may even be much higher.

Yaya Touré said he has become UNEP Goodwill Ambassador to spread the message against poaching and other forms of wildlife crime.

He pointed out that these crimes are not only a betrayal of the "responsibility to safeguard threatened species, but a serious threat to the security, political stability, economy, natural resources and cultural heritage of many countries."

Derrick Mbatha, United Nations.

Duration: 1'35"

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