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article imageReview: Ivory Wars — Out Of Africa Special

By Alexander Baron     Apr 14, 2012 in Environment
The latest edition of the BBC's 'Panorama' documentary series casts a disturbing eye over the trade in ivory, and the future, or otherwise, of the elephant.
For those who can receive it, this programme is currently on iplayer. What should this be filed under, Crime? Let's call it environment, because it affects everyone who is concerned for the survival of the world's largest land mammal. At one time, it was the white hunter who was responsible for chasing African wildlife to the brink of extinction, now the danger to the elephant comes not from Western vanity but from the Far East, where elephant ivory is highly prized.
The BBC sent its regular correspondent Rageh Omaar and his team on this sad trail, including to Malaysia, where after a hiatus of a decade, the authorities are interrupting large quantities of smuggled ivory. The amount seized is staggering, and every pair of tusks represents a dead elephant.
Trading in ivory has been banned internationally since 1989, but the trade in heroin has been banned for much longer, for all the good it has done.
Omaar speaks to those who are involved in the ongoing struggle to protect the elephants, including Save The Elephants, and people working in law enforcement.
The centre of ivory poaching and trading is the Congo; there, Omaar found ivory ornaments on sale openly in a marketplace at Kinshasa, the capital.
It is one thing to identify a problem, but quite another to solve it. In China, people who fall foul of the law can face Draconian penalties, including the death penalty for financial corruption - now there's a thought! It remains to be seen though if anything short of extreme sanctions coupled with their enforcement will save the African elephant from extinction.
More about African elephant, Elephants, Poaching, Ivory, China
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