Yao Ming’s Ivory & Rhino Horn Campaign Launch, Beijing


David Daballen, Head of Field Research, Save the Elephants

Date Published

Following Chinese sports star Yao Ming’s tour of Africa last year I was invited to Beijing for the official launch of his Ivory & Rhino Horn Campaign. This major push to raise public awareness about the impacts of buying Ivory and Rhino horn has seen the release of several Public Service Announcements to be broadcast on Chinese television and giant billboards that we saw on the streets of Beijing.

Ming spent several days with Save the Elephants in Samburu, and we had the opportunity to introduce him to the wonder of wild elephants and show him the horrific impacts of poaching. On my arrival in Beijing I was met by a strange and wonderful new world. I was certainly glad to meet my friend Yao Ming again the next day when we arrived at a huge fancy hotel where the VIP launch was to take place.

We met a few other invited guests from the US embassy and other Chinese Nationals who are working on environmental issues. After a few photos together all of us speakers – Ming, Pete Knights from WildAid, Philip Murithi from the African Wildlife Fund and I were directed to go up on the podium and take our seats. We were introduced by May, who works for Wild Aid in China, and very soon I was asked to deliver my speech.

Everyone had three minutes to give their speech; we all took to the podium one after the other and all was finished in a very short time. I spoke in English and a Chinese translation was displayed on a screen behind me. Then came time for questions and that took much longer, since we had to have a translator from both languages.

The following morning, John from AWF and I decided to do a city tour and checked the billboards that were put up after the launch. Sure enough, by nine in the morning they were all up, and we saw lots of people looking at them. Although very short, I feel this was a very worthwhile trip. I hope the campaign will send the message to all caring Chinese citizens that, as Yao Ming says, “when the buying stops, the killing can too.”