A SOBERING COLLECTION

Back in Nairobi, we visit the headquarters of the Kenya Wildlife Service where I meet the Director, Julius Kipng’etich. He shows me a monument to rangers that have fallen in the line of duty. It’s a sobering moment as a reminder that this really is a war with casualties on both sides. There are no monuments to the poachers of course, but many have been killed in the process of stealing Kenya’s ivory.

Yao Ming Meets Julius Kipng’etich, Director of Kenya Wildlife Service

Photo by Kristian Schmidt for WildAid

We are taken to the “ivory room” in an underground vault where confiscated wildlife products are stored. It’s a veritable Aladdin’s cave of wildlife remains.

Yao Ming Stares at a Stockpile of Ivory at Kenya Wildlife Service

Photo by Kristian Schmidt for WildAid

On the one side, a huge pile of skins, and on the other side, a stack of thousands of ivory tusks from miniature to enormous, with some covered in dirt as they had been buried to escape detection.  Each one is marked with a weight and location. A sad testimony to the trade. If this was what was found, how much more was shipped out undetected?

Yao Ming and a Stockpile of Ivory at Kenya Wildlife Service

Photo by Kristian Schmidt for WildAid

They tell me that 3 tonnes of ivory have recently been stolen from Zambia’s stockpile and certainly this is like having gold bullion in a vault — very tempting for theft or corrupt activities. I’m told they will probably burn the confiscated ivory at some point.

Ivory Stockpile at Kenya Wildlife Service

Photo by Kristian Schmidt for WildAid

After the graveyard of the ivory room, we meet some of the survivors at Daphne Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage, on the edge of Nairobi National Park.

More to come on that…

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19 responses

  1. wow no one knows what goes on, but we like these reports and share them with humans who care.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    • J.P.

      I also am a human who cares. I think if scientists were to put to rest the idea that theese horns had no or little medicinal value- a good % of poachings would stop.

      October 13, 2012 at 10:13 am

  2. Giorgio

    Yao Ming, thanks for making this travel. It shows how fragile is the world and how much we are harming it…people need to do more, we need to change our mentality about how is our realation with th eother living beings! I follow you from Luxembourg, good luck!

    August 22, 2012 at 1:02 pm

  3. Melinda Mueller

    Yao, I echo Giorgio in being so grateful to you for making this long journey in Africa and taking us all along with you. I find these stockpiles of ivory and animal skins horrifying – all I can see in my mind’s eye is the suffering and death the poachers have left in their wake. We simply must start respecting the right of our fellow creatures to survive and thrive on this earth, or we will eventually destroy each other in the same way. All the way from Canada, I wish you luck and success as you seek to educate your countrymen ( and all of us!) about the evils of the ivory and horn trade!

    August 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm

  4. Hemi

    I would like Zambia to burn its ivory as well…. Please write on your blog for that… I do not mind Chinese investment in Zambia I am very disturbed with this theft of one ton ivory from Zambias stock…all of it was confiscated from poachers….

    August 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm

  5. J W

    A testament to man’s vanity of coveting what can only be had through the bloodshed of the innocent.

    August 22, 2012 at 2:33 pm

  6. Pam

    That’s so sad. All those beautiful animals killed.

    August 22, 2012 at 3:27 pm

  7. Although these photos don’t make me happy, I am grateful that you are sharing them with us. Following your Journey to Africa reminds me that the fight is long from over. Thank you Yao Ming.

    August 22, 2012 at 5:25 pm

  8. What an astounding situation … all that ivory and skins. It is very sad and I hope you are able to get your message across.

    August 22, 2012 at 6:20 pm

  9. Reblogged this on bintisafaris and commented:
    Say No To Ivory Trade…… Thanks Yao for helping in this fight

    August 23, 2012 at 1:51 am

  10. Sioux

    Thanks for bringing attention to this issue

    August 23, 2012 at 8:16 am

  11. Moirafiki

    Thank you for traveling to Kenya to highlight the enormous poaching problem there and in other African countries. Please, please, take this anti-poaching message back to your country and spread the word. Most of the poached ivory and rhino horn is destined for China. Please educate your people that rhino horn is not medicine of any kind, and that if elephants continue to be killed at this current rate they will soon become extinct. What a tragedy that would be. So much of this problem starts in China – it is crucial that the Chinese people hear what you have to say. Thank you for your work on behalf of wildlife.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    • giniawf

      I completely endorse the well expressed comments by Moirafiki dated 24 August 2012. I would further add that the Chinese people would be infuriated if their beloved panda was slaughtered by poachers to the brink of extinction for its body parts. They have no right , therefore, to plunder and exploit the natural resources of Africa by cruelly butchering particularly the elephants and rhinos, motivated by greed and economic gain. The message to China is very clear – stop the poaching, stop the ivory trade and leave the wildlife alone. I sincerely hope that with your celebrity status that the people and government of China will listen to you about protecting, not destroying, the natural environment and the varied and wonderful wild animals in it…..before it is too late! Thank you for your efforts on behalf of the animals to ensure their survival and not their demise.

      October 23, 2012 at 4:15 am

  12. Martin Fisher-Haydis

    Yao thank you for putting your celebrity status to such good use.

    August 25, 2012 at 7:17 am

  13. Abiella

    Could they not sell the collection and use the money to help the remaining animals that have survived the poachers? the money could go to an elephant charity. seems so sad that they would die in vain.

    August 29, 2012 at 6:06 am

  14. Yasmeen

    Thank you greatly, Yao Ming, for your very important work. An investigation of the ivory trade shown on American PBS implied that govt. official and diplomats from China may be involved in transporting ivory from Africa to China. So I wonder if Yao’s blog is visible in China?

    April 29, 2013 at 9:00 am

  15. Kathleen McKee

    Thank you thank you! I think celebrity voices are THE MAIN way Chinese consumers will learn about the true cost of Ivory! Please keep up the work. We must also show them how SPECIAL elephants are, their social, emotional, perceptive playful ways of being to get them to be shocked that these animals are dying to decorate their dining room tables.

    August 16, 2013 at 2:51 pm

  16. Kathleen McKee

    I really hope you will do another campaign that will be shown on TV screens all over China, we must keep the message going so ALL have to HEAR you. We cannot stop telling people! Thank you so much!

    August 16, 2013 at 2:52 pm

  17. Pingback: September 14: Dozens of Orphans and Old Friends | Yao's Journey to Africa

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