African Elephants May Need China To Save Them From Extinction

Netflix documentary "The Ivory Game" exposes the dark underworld of the ivory trade and Beijing's role in shaping the destiny of these animals.

Eric Olander and Cobus van Staden are the duo behind the China Africa Project and hosts of the popular China in Africa Podcast. We’re here to answer your most pressing, puzzling, even politically incorrect questions, about all things related to the Chinese in Africa and Africans in China.

In the powerful new Netflix documentary “The Ivory Game,” Elephant Action League Executive Director Andrea Crosta ominously warns that the entire fate of Africa’s elephants is in the hands of a single man, Chinese President Xi Jinping. Only President Xi has the power, argues Crosta, to shut down China’s domestic ivory trade that drives so much of the killing of Africa’s rapidly diminishing elephant population.

'For the first time in history, one person has in his hands, the destiny of an entire species.' Andrea Crosta in "The Ivory Game"

Crosta is among the central characters in “The Ivory Game,” where he is also joined by Nairobi-based conservation activist and founder of the nonprofit organization China House Kenya, Huang Hongxiang. Huang and Crosta traveled the world to expose the complex trading networks that facilitate the illicit ivory trade. While Huang generally agrees with Crosta that the Chinese president plays a large role in the destiny of these animals, he also cautions that it will take more than just Xi Jinping’s policies to stop the killing.

Huang joins Eric & Cobus  ― in the podcast above ― to discuss more about the undercover sting operations he participated in for “The Ivory Game,” and why he feels it is so important to demonstrate that Chinese activists like him are risking their lives in the effort to save Africa’s elephants from extinction.

Carved ivory is shown to the media before being destroyed in Beijing in 2015 in an effort to shed the nation's image as a glo
Carved ivory is shown to the media before being destroyed in Beijing in 2015 in an effort to shed the nation's image as a global trading hub for illegal elephant tusks.

Join the conversation. Do you agree with Crosta that, for the first time ever, an entire animal species will be determined by just one person? Or do you share Huang’s more nuanced view that it will take a collaborative effort among Asian, American, European and African leaders to finally shut down the ivory trade that fuels illegal poaching? Tell us what you think.

Twitter: @eolander | @stadenesque

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Nairobi Ivory Burn Site