Since retiring from the NBA, basketball icon Yao Ming has been focused on conservation efforts to save the shark population of the oceans, who were in danger of becoming extinct.
Shark fin soup is a famous dish in Yao Ming’s native China, which accounts for the nation being the largest consumers of sharks in the world. While there is very little meat in the fin, it was seen as something of a status symbol dish. As more and more people were able to afford it thanks to China’s economic boom, the shark population was beginning to dwindle. About 100 million sharks are killed a year, 1 in 4 species are in danger of extinction, and many sharks had their fins cut off and were left to die. It’s a ghastly practice and has a deeply destructive effect on the ocean ecology.
Enter Yao Ming.
Yao Ming lent his celebrity to the conservation efforts of the charity WildAid. Together, they released a series of PSAs that has had a tremendous impact on the problem. Some sources have cited a 50 percent drop in shark fishing since the release of the ads. The Chinese government has banned shark fin soup at their official state functions and 91% of the population has called for a ban on shark hunting.
Since this great success, Yao Ming has continued his conservation efforts. He’s gone down to Africa to help protect the nation’s elephants, a journey which has been documentary series "Saving Africa's Giants with Yao Ming" by Animal Planet.