Former NBA star Yao Ming delivered a petition earlier this week during the opening session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) asking China’s government to ban sales of ivory.

Signatories and fellow CPPCC members include Wang Wenjing (Chairman and CEO of Yonyou Software), Liu Jun (Chairman of Eagle International Holdings), Xu Shaochun (Founder of Kingdee Software), Zhu Xinli (Chairman of China Huiyuan Juice Co.), and Yu Minhong (Founder of New Oriental Education).

Yao has visited Kenya and South Africa, learning about the poaching crises firsthand and filming a documentary for state broadcaster CCTV. He previously helped to reduce China’s demand for shark fin by a reported 50% through his campaign with WildAid. After a previous CPPCC resolution President Xi’s administration banned shark fin from state banquets.

In April 2013, Yao launched a campaign with WildAid, the African Wildlife Foundation, and Save the Elephants to reduce demand for ivory and rhino horn. In January, officials crushed more than six tonnes of seized ivory and in 2013, China’s State and National Forestry Departments appealed to travelers through SMS alerts not to purchase ivory or rhino horn. On February 27, China’s top business leaders released a pledge to never purchase, possess, or give ivory as a gift. WildAid China Board Chairman, Mr. Huang Nubo spearheaded pledge recruitment which includes Cao Guowei, CEO of Sina Corp., China’s largest internet portal, as well as 10 individuals from the Forbes 2013 China Rich List including Jack Ma, founder of the Alibaba Group.

“As China grows up, Chinese companies should do the same and take on more social responsibility,” said Nubo. “This is why we are joining efforts to protect our planet’s wildlife. We hope this ethic becomes engrained in us and is passed down to future generations.”

Recent surveys indicate a large portion of China’s population is unaware of the death toll to create ivory and rhino horn products, yet a greater number of residents support government enforced bans.

“China can truly be a global leader in conservation and stopping the legal sales of ivory, which enable laundering and confuse consumers, would be a great step towards that,” said WildAid Executive Director Peter Knights.

In the United States, Hawaii and New York legislatures are considering banning sales of ivory.

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