'Ivory Wars,' Discovery Channel Special, Examines Illegal Elephant Poaching (VIDEO)

Over two decades after Discovery first examined elephant poaching with "Ivory Wars" and the international ivory trade was banned by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, the problem remains far from eradicated.

In a new Discovery special, the channel teamed up with the BBC to investigate both illegal elephant poaching and ivory sales in Africa. Eileen O’Neill, Group President, Discovery and TLC Networks, said in a press release, "With the African elephant killings continuing at an alarming rate, it’s time to once again bring this issue to the forefront and educate viewers about the plight of these magnificent animals."

In the clip above, Discovery producers visit a market in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo and find that illegal ivory is only offered to an undercover Chinese buyer, suggesting that "it may be Chinese buyers who are requesting the bulk of it." After showing an elephant tusk as long as the width of a van offered for $10,000, Discovery's narrator says "Unfortunately, it may already be too late for the forest elephants of the DRC, thanks to deforestation, consumption of elephant meat and a lax policy on ivory sales."

In May, a senior official with the Wildlife Conservation Society said that about 5,000 elephants have been killed around the Nouabale Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo in the past five years, reported the Associated Press.

Elephants outside of Africa also face threats from humans. A Sumatran elephant was found poisoned in western Indonesia in May, likely killed by villagers trying to protect their crops. According to AP, "Fewer than 3,000 Sumatran elephants are left in the wild and environmentalists warn that they could be extinct within three decades unless steps are taken to protect them."

Discovery suggests that individuals interested in helping African elephants should consider a donation to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust or to Save the Elephants.

Ivory wars premieres at 8pm E/P on Saturday, June 23 on Discovery Channel. Clip courtesy of Discovery.



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