Yao Ming Goes to Africa to Raise Awareness of Ivory Poaching

Screen Shot 2012-08-17 at 8.58.49 AMYao Ming in Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve. Photo: Kristian Schmidt/WildAid

Yao Ming is a giant man, but he paled in comparison to the corpse of the elephant stripped of ivory that lay at his feet in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya. The 7' 6", 310-pound, retired center from China, a former player for the NBA's Houston Rockets, landed in Africa on August 10 to raise awareness about the ills of poaching. His loyal fan base in China, where ivory is viewed as a status symbol whose price is rising, makes him an appealing celebrity to conservation organizations like WildAid. In 2006, he stopped eating shark fin soup and later began a campaign to prevent its consumption in China. This August in Africa, he visited endangered white rhinos, stood over the corpse of that dead elephant, and visited rooms stockpiled with loads of ivory seized so that it could not be shipped overseas. “I think we need to increase the public awareness of what ivory is made of,” Yao told the Associated Press. “The elephants, including rhinos, their numbers are decreasing.”

Filed To: Politics, Nature

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