The Chinese basketball legend Yao Ming has for years lent his renown to wildlife conservation. In 2006 he took up the campaign against killing sharks for their fins, considered a delicacy in China. More recently, he has taken up the cause of elephants and rhinos, which are hunted for their ivory and horns.
In August 2012, he traveled to the African savanna for the first time to witness the destruction wrought by poaching, and returned last year to Kenya. Now he is ready to share what he saw with his compatriots, in a documentary film, “The End of the Wild,” and a companion book.
At a presentation of the film in Beijing last week, Mr. Yao emphasized the special role of Chinese consumers, both in driving market demand for products from endangered animals and in curbing that demand.
“It is stunning what China has achieved in the past three decades economically, and at least some of us have emerged as winners,” he said in an interview. “But our purchasing power is straining the resources of the earth.”
The obsession of some Chinese with possessing rare ornaments or ingredients of questionable medical benefit “is costing lives thousands of kilometers away,” he said.
The film is the latest of Mr. Yao’s projects in partnership with WildAid, a nongovernmental organization devoted to stopping the illegal trade in wildlife. It shows him petting baby rhinos in Ol Pejeta Conservancy outside Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, and examining the mutilated carcasses left behind by poachers in Namunyak, in northern Kenya.
“I believe that people who have seen those pictures will remember it,” Mr. Yao says in the film. In the interview he added, “I saw those dead bodies. And that smell, well, you won’t smell it watching the documentary.”