Loving this!! ~ Yao Ming, a Former 7’5″ NBA player, is a Wildlife Conservationist

Excerpt from Sports Illustrated: Since retiring in July 2011 from playing in the NBA for the Houston Rockets, Yao Ming has found a new passion, wildlife conservation, and has become a global ambassador for WildAid, one of the leading organizations working to reduce the demand for illegal wildlife products.

Photo by Kristian Schmidt / WildAid ~ Yao Ming traveled to Africa for the first time to come face-to-face with some of the world’s most majestic species – the elephant and the rhino – and to document the poaching crisis these creatures are facing as a result of growing demand for rhino horn and ivory products.

Yao met Najin and Suni, two of the world’s remaining seven Northern White Rhinos – representing one of the most endangered species on the planet. The Northern White Rhino once roamed through Congo, Uganda, and Sudan, but now only seven remain, four of which are at Ol Pejeta.

Yao poses with a group of Kenyan Police Reservists protecting Ol Pejeta, an animal sanctuary in East Africa.

These are immense and powerful creatures. Yao Ming insight, “As one of them pushes me, I’m reminded of the immense pressure I used to feel when I had to guard Shaquille O’Neal. You knew that pressure while guarding Shaq, and you know it when a rhino leans on you.”

But this power is meaningless in the face of a poacher’s bullet or wire snare. To make them less of a target, they have been dehorned – a painless process removing the top of the horn, but because there is still a substantial nub they are still under constant threat.

It’s tragic to know these impressive animals are among the last of their kind, just because some people believe their horn, which is just keratin like our fingernails, has healing properties.

It would be a tragedy if we lost them.

Yao and British tycoon Richard Branson attend a press conference for a campaign against eating shark fins in Shanghai. Yao and Branson made an appeal Thursday in Shanghai against the consumption of shark fins to a group of 30 of China’s richest and most influential business people.

It’s so great to see Yao take on such an important role in the effort to conserve the African endangered wildlife. Thank you Mr. Ming.

Check out Yao Ming’s two-week tour of Africa (follow his adventures at yaomingblog.com), SI looks at life after retirement for one of basketball’s true global stars.


  1. vanessa says:

    I am deeply inspired with this work. We have to wake up to the fact that these majestic animals deserve our stewardship and respect. Thank you for your incredible work, keep it up!

  2. I am very grateful for the work you are doing Yao. thank you!

  3. Virginia Woolf says:

    I am a teacher from Auckland, New Zealand. I have only recently become aware of the serious nature of the crisis in Africa over the plight of the wildlife there, especially the elephants and rhinos, because of the alarmingly increased levels of poaching to meet the burgeoning and greedy demand for ivory and rhino horn particularly in Asia. It has deeply concerned and horrified me about the huge numbers of elephants and rhinos being slaughtered in what has been a very short space of time. I now completely committed to doing all I can to help stop the annihilation of these magnificent creatures by signing as many petitions as I can find , donating money, supporting wildlife organisations and raising awareness in my own community, as to the seriousness of the situation, before it is too late!

    I have been impressed to read online about Yao Ming’s commitment to environmental and animal issues in particular his concern for the elephants and rhinos which are now in grave danger of being ‘wiped out’ completely if the cruel and sickening poaching does not stop immediately. I found his comprehensive blog about his recent trip to Africa, well written and well worth reading. His efforts on behalf of Africa’s threatened wildlife species, and the shark fin issue, are to be admired and commended. I hope he can be a powerful force for a positive change in attitude back home in China over animal welfare issues and not exploiting them for economic gain.

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