By Shawna O'Reilly
Former NBA star Yao Ming says ivory and rhinoceros horn consumption must be halted. Ming is contributing to a public awareness campaign aimed at halting the poaching of wild elephants and rhinos, said an April 16 press release from PR Newswire.
China native Yao Ming is a former basketball star and remains a celebrated icon in China. He is hoping to use his status to raise awareness about the importance of halting the poaching of wildlife in Africa and Kenya. Ming traveled to those countries in August of 2012 to film a wildlife documentary seeking to raise awareness of poaching; that film will debut later this year.
China is a major consumer of ivory and rhino horn. The hope is that Ming's status in China and the reputation of his humanitarian organization, the Yao Ming Foundation, will help to increase the knowledge of Chinese citizens about the devastation caused by animal poaching. A survey conducted in Nov. 2012 showed that Chinese citizens would support a government enforced ban on both the ivory trade and the use of rhino horns, but that most citizens greatly underestimated just how commonly animal poaching occurs.
"No one who sees the results firsthand, as I did, would buy ivory or rhino horn. I believe when people in China know what's happening they will do the right thing and say no to these products," says Ming.