Former NBA star Yao Ming saves millions of sharks from slaughter

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The sharks of the world have an unlikely savior: former basketball star Yao Ming. 

You remember Ming — he’s that incredibly tall Chinese man who became an eight-time NBA All-Star and averaged 19 points a game over his epic 15-year career. 

But Ming is not the type to rest on his laurels. He’s an extremely popular figure in China, and he decided to use that influence to help save an often maligned creature of the sea: the shark.

One of the major reasons that 1 in 4 shark species is now endangered,according to Upworthy, is that China has a large appetite for shark fin soup.

The dish has long been a symbol of wealth in China, and as the country’s middle class has grown significantly, so has the demand for the soup.

About 73 per cent of the 100 million sharks killed each year are done so for their fins, reports Upworthy

Ming joined forces with conservation non-profit WildAid to launch a public awareness campaign about the devastating effect this soup is having on the ocean’s wildlife. 

Apparently many consumers were not even aware that the soup is made from shark; according to the WildAid website the Mandarin translation is actually “fish wing soup.“ 

The campaign has been a huge success, credited with a 50 to 70 per cent drop in shark harvesting. Even better, recent studies show that 91 per cent of Chinese citizens now support a ban on shark fin soup.

Ming’s not stopping there. Having saved the lives of some 50 million sharks, he’s now turned his attention to the plight of elephants and rhinos in Kenya, who are still being poached for the ivory in their tusks and horns.