Where Yao Ming Goes To Africa And Fights Illegal Wildlife Trade

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Photo by Kristian Schmidt for WildAid

Did everyone know that Yao Ming has a blog? He does, and YaoMingBlog.com is currently full of pictures from his tour of Africa with Wild Aid. As the description reads:

Yao Ming travels 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.

There are dozens more photos like the one above, all taken by Kristian Schmidt and Wild Aid, but once you're done gawking at a 7'6 Chinese guy walking among African tribes and wildlife, Yao's observations just as impressive. (He's also over here, writing for the Guardian about the nasty Ivory trade). It may make you get all weepy and nostalgic about his injury-plagued career and wish we still had a character like Yao as an NBA superstar. But read closer and it's also reassuring to find out that Yao hasn't changed at all, even if he's 10,000 miles from Houston.

He's still more thoughtful and sincere and self-aware than 99 percent of any of us, let alone pro athletes. Like a lovable 7'6 philosopher, paying a visit to the elephant orphanage, or spending a night with the Samburu tribe:

... As the sun starts to go down, I head up to a hill with a spectacular 360 degree view flanked by a dozen Samburu warriors, some of whom work at the camp, singing traditional songs. As the last light of day slips away, they present me with an 8ft spear and ask me to become an honorary Samburu warrior with the name Lenasakalai, a legendary warrior who protected the Samburu people.

They light our fire literally by rubbing two sticks together in the traditional way and as a thousand stars and the Milky Way appear above my head, accompanied by the hypnotic chanting of the warriors, I feel like I am being taken back in time. Until the ring of a cellphone in one of the warrior’s pockets reminds me that here the past and the present intermingle.

Yao should start a religion, or at least keep blogging forever.

(HT: Ryan O'Hanlon)

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