August 12 is World Elephant Day. Today, people around the globe are coming together in support of elephants. This year is particularly important as wildlife trafficking, which includes the poaching of ivory tusks from elephants, continues to pose a large threat to populations of elephants.
The human toll of ivory trafficking is drastic. Some of the worst human rights abusers and armed groups have turned to the slaughter of elephants and the trafficking of their ivory as a means to finance their killing and terror. Sudan’s Janjaweed militia, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and the Séléka rebel movement in the Central African Republic are all connected to wildlife trafficking networks, and a strong global response is needed.
One such initiative is a new investigative piece launched today by National Geographic magazine contributor Bryan Christy, documenting how armed groups help to fund their operations by ivory smuggling. He commissioned an artificial elephant tusk designed to look and feel like a real tusk and embedded it with a custom-made GPS and satellite-based tracking system to track the people who kill elephants and to learn what areas and networks their ivory follows – enabling him to make a direct connection between elephant poaching and terrorism.
This project will re-launch the documentary series “Explorer” (natgeotv.com/explorer, #NatGeoExplorer) with the series opener, Explorer: Warlords of Ivory, premiering Sunday, Aug. 30, at 8/7c. It will take an in-depth look at the devastating effects of the global illegal ivory trade.
Warning: Video contains graphic elements
National Geographic’s “The Front Line of the Ivory War”
There's something you can do to help support an end to ivory trafficking connected to the LRA. The Enough Project has been reporting on the links between Joseph Kony’s LRA and ivory trafficking, and now there is legislation in both the House and the Senate that addresses the need for the Obama Administration to increase efforts that help stop the LRA’s participation in illicit ivory trafficking. On July 30, Senators Boozman (R-AR), Durbin (D-IL), and Inhofe (R-OK), along with six additional original cosponsors, introduced S. Res. 237, which condemns Joseph Kony and the LRA for continuing to perpetrate crimes against humanity, war crimes, and mass atrocities. The House counterpart, H. Res. 394, was introduced by Representatives McGovern (D-MA-2) and Pitts (R-PA-16) and twelve additional original cosponsors.
Photo Credit: Nuria Ortega/African Parks Network – Elephants in Garamba National Park, DRC, 2013.