Yao takes aim at poaching
When former NBA all-star Yao Ming gave his speech on anti-poaching, some in the audience — many his fellow Shanghainese — took pictures of him and those closer to the stage shot selfies.
Yao was used to it. He tried to keep the audience focused on his speech and his PowerPoint presentation that contained the only pictures that at the moment mattered to him, those of dead African elephants and their orphan calfs.
Attending the opening ceremony of the new Shanghai Natural History Museum on April 19, the former Houston Rockets center and founder of the Yao Foundation, repeated the well-known anti-poaching slogan, if the buying stops, the killing will, too.
“I witnessed five poaching scenes of elephants in Africa within one day, I was shocked and frightened by the horrible slaughter,” said Yao, who went to Kenya in 2012 for a documentary made by Wild Aid about poaching.
He added he also saw three elephants die once — two dead bodies and one died later from infection caused by gun wound.
There are doubting voices, however, that believe efforts to stop poaching are all in vain because the industry has huge profits involved. Some argue it is the overprotection, which bans on breeding the wild animals that makes the species rare and brings them closer to extinction.
Yao has also joined the campaign against consumption of shark fins and has vowed never to eat shark fin.
According to a 2013 research, China’s consumption of shark fin has been reduced 70 percent under collaborative efforts between the government and NGOs, but more importantly thanks to the public’s consciousness on environmental issues.
On April 15, Yao received the Spirit of Sports award from the Laureus World Sports Academy. It was in honor of his ‘extending of boundaries on human achievements.’
In a Washington Post interview last year, Yao said financially well-off Chinese people need to balance their desire.
“I am sure that human beings won’t be the last extinct species if we fail to stop killing wild animals,” he said.
Former NBA all-star gives his speech on anti-poaching of wild animals on the opening of Shanghai Natural History Museum in Shanghai.