Wild elephants are the largest living land animals in Africa and Asia. These creatures are known for their high intelligence, their emotional sensitivity, their close family bonds, and their vulnerability. Many of the elephants we see in zoos and circuses have been stolen as calves, separated from their loved ones, and then shipped and traded around the world. Scientific studies have shown that these captives suffer under isolation from their kind and fail to thrive and reproduce as well as they would on protected lands or sanctuaries.
But the most appalling and dangerous threat to wild elephants is being brutally killed for their ivory tusks.
- One elephant is killed every 15 minutes . . . 96 a day.
- More than 150,000 elephants were killed in the past five years and at that rate, their species will be wiped out within 15 years.
- Trafficking in endangered species is the 4th largest illegal business in the world. Only drugs, weapons, and human trafficking are larger.
Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson are the directors of The Ivory Game, a deeply moving and dramatic documentary about a band of heroic figures who are doing all they can to protect Africa's wild elephants from greedy poachers who are killing these animals and selling ivory tusks to dealers in China and elsewhere in the world. Almost all of these men and women are eloquent spokespersons for the elephants they love and respect. And they also freely admit that solving the problem means taking into consideration its incredible complexity.
With the same kind of passion and creativity by the makers of the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove, these filmmakers begin with a night raid on a Tanzanian village looking for a notorious trafficker named Shetani who, along with his men, is responsible for the deaths of 10,000 elephants. Next, we meet Craig Millar, a security head for Big Life Foundation, as he watches over One Ton, a favorite elephant, and mourns the many slaughtered carcasses they come across in southern Kenya. In addition, he and a conservation activist work to convince angry farmers that building an electrified fence will protect them from the wild elephants whom they claim are destroying their crops.
Meanwhile, in Bejing illegal dealers in ivory show carved tusks in their stores with some of the items selling for $300,000. Andrea Crosta, an Italian activist and co-founder of WildLeaks, the whistleblowing site for "wildlife crime," is seen orchestrating exposure of ivory traders and organized crime figures who collaborate with them in the pursuit of more and more money. Also active in efforts to crack down on those trafficking in ivory is Hongxiang Huang, a crusading Chinese journalist, who risks his life in several covert missions.
The activists depicted in this extraordinary documentary demonstrate the courage and perseverance that it will take to save the last of these endangered elephants. They give us hope.