Rocket’s legend Yao Ming may have retired from basketball, but he hasn’t shifted into the shadows just yet.
Yao is using his stardom as the second tallest NBA player and Houston hero to help save African elephants from poachers. The ivory trade is a big underground business and due to the popularity of their tusks, 4.5 million African elephants have lost their lives in the past 60 years due to this massive ring of organized wildlife trafficking, with 33,000 elephants murdered just last year. Yao intends to spread the word about these magnificent creatures and to urge everyone to sign a pledge promising to “Be Ivory Free”.
Ivory is high in demand in China as the middle class continues to grow. “The huge price motivates poachers to persist,” says Yao. “And if we buy ivory, it makes all of us killers as well,” he informed Animal Planet’s blog, where his documentary is set to air this month.
Animal Planet also tells us that Yao traveled to Kenya, home of the ancient Samburu people and where the elephants naturally roam, to learn more about these majestic creatures and what he can do to save them. Narrated by Edward Norton, the documentary will follow him as he meets with Sir Ian Douglas-Hamilton, a renowned elephant expert, and learns of the dire need these animals are in if they are going to avoid extinction.
According to Mashable, Yao not only uses his stardom and vision to help spread awareness to this cruelty and has become an ambassador for elephants, but to rhinos as well. Last month, he released his film “The End of the Wild”, which was created with the non-profit organization WildAid, of which Yao serves a celebrity ambassador.
The documentary, “Saving Africa’s Giants with Yao Ming” will premiere on Animal Planet Tuesday, November 18th at 10/9c, but you will be able to catch it throughout the month. For more ways you can help these beautiful elephants, sign the pledge and spread the word amongst your friends and family that this is a devastating and serious issue that we need to take action on immediately. Join Yao Ming in the fight to save Africa’s giants.