Chinese Basketball Star Yao Ming Speaks Out Against Poaching

By Dana Sanchez Published: November 18, 2014, 3:27 pm

Yao Ming, 33, is better known for dunking baskets than for wildlife advocacy, but he is passionate about saving Africa’s elephants, and is spreading awareness of the cruelty of poaching in a new documentary, “Saving Africa’s Giants with Yao Ming,” according to a report in NatureWorldNews.

A crossover sports star in both China and the U.S., Yao visited a village of the ancient Samburu people as part of the documentary. The Samburu depend on elephants for survival, according to an Animal Planet video.

Despite a ban on exported ivory products and controls on domestic trade, China is still the largest market for illegal ivory, and prices for ivory have tripled since 2010, NatureWorldNews reported.

While the U.S. has started to take action, with New York and New Jersey recently putting stricter bans on ivory products, China has yet to do the same.

Still the world’s largest importer of smuggled tusks, China is perpetuating elephant poaching throughout Africa, according to NatureWorldNews. It’s appropriate that Yao Ming speak out against it.

“Yao represents the next generation of conservationists. Having him as an ambassador is probably the best thing that could happen to wildlife,” said Peter
Knights, executive director of WildAid, in a prepared statement. WildAid helped produce
the documentary, which premieres today, Tuesday, Nov. 18 on Animal Planet.

Narrated by actor Edward Norton, the one-hour special coincides with the
2014 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York and the organization’s Commitment to Action to Save African Elephants, according to NatureWorldNews.

Yao, a native of Shanghai, China, traveled to Kenya and visited a wildlife sanctuary for young elephants.

Bernard Leserin, assistant manager of Elephant Watch, said in the Animal Planet video the Samburu hope Yao will be heard when he asks people not to buy ivory. “(The market for ivory is) killing our heritage, it’s killing our economy — you’re killing our livelihoods,” Leserin said.

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