He’s one of China’s best-known athletes but you might remember him as the really tall guy in the NBA. Yao Ming, the seven foot, six inch NBA basketball player who played for the Houston Rockets from 2002 to 2011 is putting his giant celebrity status towards a cause in his home country.

Ming delivered a petition to the Chinese government at the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) to ban ivory sales. It is not the first time Ming has used his celebrity status towards activism. He previously worked on a separate campaign with WildAid that resulted in a 50 percent reduction in the demand for shark fins, proving his voice can make a difference.

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“Because the ivory trade is leading to the poaching of elephants, I recommend that China ban all sales of ivory, prohibit imports of ivory, prohibit the sale, purchase, transport, carrying, and shipping of all ivory products. I believe that this ban on ivory will lead to the protection of elephants, ease the burden on customs officials, maintain safety, and help make China a leader in wildlife conservation,” Ming’s petition reads.

Surprisingly, a survey taken in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou resulted in 94 percent of participants supporting the idea of banning ivory sales in China. A pretty impressive number for a country who’s demand for ivory is driving the increasing poaching of endangered elephants.

If China were to ban ivory sales, it would have a direct impact on illegal poaching in other countries and hopefully bring the elephant death rate down. What’s more, if China choose this route, it wouldn’t be close behind the United States as a leader in anti-poaching efforts. Just recently, the U.S. banned the commercial sale of ivory.

With public support and celebrity backing, it seems as if the pieces are there for China to take a big step in the right direction to save elephants and ban ivory sales once and for all.

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Image Source: Keith Allison / Flickr