tv Earth Focus LINKTV September 26, 2016 4:30pm-5:01pm PDT
narrator: today on "earth focus," killining elephantnts fr ivory fuels crime, cororruption, and terrorism. comingng up on "earth focus." narrator: for more than two million years, wild elephants have been living in the savannas and forests of africa. they were once plentiful, as many as five million on the continent back in the 1940s. afrirican elephants are the largest land animals on earth and one of the most intelligent. their brain is similar to humans in structure
and complexity. they feel emotions like grief and joy. they learn, play, display compmpassion andnd altruism. some experts say they even have a sense of humor. their primary predator is man, and because of man, they may soon be extinct. thornton: no one really even knows how many elephants are left in africa. some people think it m may be as few as 300,000 animals, so we might be lososing 1/6 of the cocontinentatal population o of africa's s elephahants every ye. peters: in many countries in africa, ththe elephant is alalry ecolologically extinct. [gunots, eleant trumts] narrator: every 20 minutes, an elephant is killed foror its tusks. the reason: greed.
the price of ivory has skyrocketed. raw ivory sells for as much as $3,000 per pound on the black market, but the cost for humanity is unfathomable. elephants may be gone in 10 years. ruggiero: the problem begins very simply wiwith dememand. narrator: and china drives the demand for ivory. knights: china now is estimated to be 70% of the world's ivory market. there is a tradition of ivory carving, but also, of course, the massive growth of the chinese economy. narrator: around 300 million people make up china's middle class today. that's more than the population of the united states, and they are looking to spend their money on luxury goods. ivory has particular appeal because of its long history in china. it has been carved there for more than 2,000 years, expressing many core chinese cultural and traditional values.
knights: i think in some cases, people are speculating that ivory is almost like a currency that they can invest i in fofor the future. alie: you walk through beijing and in some of the stores you see ivory mantelpiece, exquisite carvings going for like 50,000 u.s. dollars, 60,000 u.s. dollars. knights: but in addidition to that, you have thihings like chopsticks, bangles that people wear, small carved items. all these things are made from ivory, and unfortunately they are still in popular demand in china. roberts: the united states of america is probably the number two destination for illegal ivory after china. narrator: europe, vietnam, thailand, malaysia, and the philippines also have substantial illegal ivory markets. knights: ivory has been used in the same way that bod diamonds has been used in west africa. it's been used by insurgent and militant groups s as a souourcef financing. narrator: one group cashing in on illicit ivory is joseph kony's lord's resistance army,
or lra, which sprang to life in 1988. kony is an aggressive, messiaianic warlord wanted b bye internrnational criminal court for crimes against humanity. hutson: kony leads a fierce band of a couple hundred remaining fighters who originated frorom northern ugandada, but who now predate throroughout congo andnd central african republic up ininto the sudans, and they comomt mass atrocities. they''ll take ththeir machetes and systemematically take apart a a mother and feed d her to h her children. narrator: the lra killed tens of thousands, displaced almost 2 million n people, and abducted over 60,000 children. they turned girls into sex slaves and boys into child soldldiers. the lra supports such
atrorocities by poaching elephants and trading ivory. much of kony's ivory comes from garamba national park in the democratic republic of the congo. hutson: garamba is considered to be at the end of nowhere. it is one of the last wild habitats. narrator: the lra raids the 1,900 square mile park with impunity and trades ivory for arms, ammunition, food, and cash. their trading partners include the armed forces of sudan. sudan is a country designated by the u.s. government as a state sponsor of terrorism. hutson: one particular former lra fighteter said that he was with a group who shot six elephants on kony's orders, and they hand carried the tusks through central afafrican republic. and they went to the kafia kingi enclave on the border of sudan, and there in the presence of joseph kony, they
sold the i ivory to a sergeant in thehe sudanan armed forces.s. narrator: garamba is a converging point for military units from several countries looking to kill elephants. hutson: so you've got the lra rebels, you've got a armed forcs from sudan, from south sudan, and from uganda all competing with fardc, the congolese forces to poach the last wild elephants that remain in the park. narrator: these units come armed with satellite phones, night vision goggles, and ak-47s. elephants are also shot from helicopters, as was the case with 22 elephants killed in garamba in march 2012. hutson: we do know for certain that the elephants werere killed from a helicopter used as a shooting platform. they shot the e elephants throuh the top p of the head. they first hererded them, and elephants instinctivively group
into a circlcle, with h the babs and juveniles in the center and the e adults facacing outwad fofor protecection. and that's how their bodies were found. narrator: more than 90% of elephants in garamba park have already been killed as a result of massive and continuous assaults. ruggiero: it's well understood that eleleants have a sense of mortality. they understand that a carcass of, say, one of their family members has had its s trunk cut off and its tusks are no l longr there. they will go to an elephant that''s died if the tusks are there, they w will remove them fromom e carcass and pass them around frequeuently and carry thehem of into the bush, for example. so they're cognizant. they are communicative. they're sentient. they're extxtremely intelligege.
they have a great memory. it''s not just a clichché. so they suffer. roberts: elephants are hugely triarchal heherds. you've got g grandmotherers and daughters, granddaughters, aunts, nieces all living together. the minute you allllow those herds or individuals in those herds to be killed, you're decimating the entire fabric of that elephant society. ruggiero: usually the larger animals are killed for ivory first.t. the socicial unrest,t, the disturbance of their complex social s systems is completely upset, so o even if there are numericacally several hundred elephants in an area, whenen biologist looks at them, they freqequently see juvenileses and sub-adults runnining around aimlessly and withthout leaders. narrator: what is likely the worst elephant massacre on record took place in cameroon's bouba n'djia national park in early 2 2012. arabic speaking horsemen from
sudan, armed with ak-47s, machine guns, and rocket propelled grenades killed 650 elephants, more than 60% of the park's population over a bloody three-month period. among the dead were newborns, calves, and adults, many still alive as their tusks were hacked off. alie: we were the first ngo on-site in the park when the animals were slaughtered. the evidence gathered in the cameroon case was linked to sudanese militia, i.e. the janjaweed. we had some very specific links: the use of f weaponry, the use of ammunition that was coming out, the satellite imagery that showed these folks coming in on horseback in the park, slaughtering thesese animals,nd then mamaking their way back out. [shouting orders] narrator: the janjaweed, calleld devils on horseback, are a notorious militia backed by the government of sudan. insurgents for hire, they are
associated with the genocide in darfur that claimed almost half a million lives and displaced more than a million people. ruggiero: they've been raping and pillagining, killi elephants,s, being brigands on horseback for 150 or 200 years or maybe longer. as long asas there is recorded history in the arerea, they've been doing this. kalron: there's an obvious link to the fact that they are able to ride thousands of kilometers and pass countries, obviously having some sort of local support in some way, either paying them or actual accomplices. ruggiero: i saw and witntnessed personalally in the central african republic that the janjawaweed were going farar ouf their way to accumulate as much ivory and rhino horn as they could to support them, to make moneney. kalronon: everyone''s talking about them, about these horsemen riding through the sahel reaching areas thousanands of k kilometers from their h hoe
and coming back with their loot. we have seen clear evidence of that happenining. we've colollected casings linkig specific scenes of poaching in three different countries to sudan. narrator: in addition to cameroon, shell casings were found in the central african republic and chad, all linked to sudanese paramilitary and military groups. and these groups are also killing park rangers. sudan's military is alleged to have murdered six rangers in chad's zakouma national park in 2012. hutson: that murder was accomplished by a joint force of the sudan armed forces and the sudan central reserve police unit known as abu tera. the papark rangers, being good muslims, went out to pray one morning at sunrise, and this joint t force executed t them in a an infantry style. narrator: the rangers in
zakouma are among the 100 or so rangers killed protecting elephants in africa each year. vira: these guys put their lives on the line, and many of them, until very recently, were operating with, you know, broken down rifles, no pensions, no mechanisms, no clear mechanisms in place to take care of your family if the primary breadwinner dies. shelley: terrorists are operating as b businessmen these days, , and they are seizingng targets of opportunity. narrator: al qaeda affiliate al shabaab is an example. kalron: al shabaab is built out of former warlords. their profession is trafficking. if it's not in ivory, then it's in weapopons, inin narcotics, in fuel,l, in goods, in titimbe, in c charcoal. narrator: the u.s. designated terror g group, based in somala, was responsible for the september 2013 attack on the
westgate mall in nairobi that killed 67 people, and for the death of over 140 in the april 2015 attack on kenya's garissa university. nir kalron investigated the links between al shabaab and illicit ivory trade in 2012. kalron: al shabaab was controlling the ports of kismayo, marca, and big parts of mogadishu, including access to the port through its agents. evidenence from kenynya suggests the local and regional poachers used that access. we'd seen evidence from ports in marca and kismayo of ivory, large stocks of it, and had collected evidence from individuals that testified to having profifited from thahat te with al shabaab agentsts. knights: al shshabaab did contrl various ports in somalia where the ivory is being shipped out of, and they would basicallyly charge a tax for anything being shipped out.
narrrrator: al shabaab levies a% to 7 7% tax on i ivory that t ps ththrough areas they control, mamaking aboutut $250,000 0 a yr from i ivory. ininsurgent groups and armeded forces units are not the only poachers. local villagers, who know the terrain, are also involved, and they are increasingly recruited by well-financed, organized criminal groups. roberts: when you kill an elephant and you sell that ivory y tusk in ththe bush, it's only going to be maybe $25 or $100. there might be a 500% markup by t the time it gets to the consolidating point for export, and then a 4,000% markup by the time it reachehes the marketpla. hutson: it's the middlemen and the people on the other end, on the dememand side, who really are becoming r rich off of this. vira: you know, even though the poaching might happen at sort of the bush level in a very gritty way, very quickly you
start moving up the chain to find very significantnt, popowerful, and wealthy people controlling the trade. peters: so you don't see animals killed o on spec. there's always a b buyer in plae and the financing in place for it. and we see very, v very little opportunistic killing of animals.. narrator: the lure of high profits, easy money with little risk, makes ivory an attractive target for organized criminal syndicates. vira: they're well integrated into the international financial system, into the international transportation sysystems.s. they are able to move significant amouounts ofof prodt across very, very long distances, and they're well inintegrated with other forms of transnational organized crime. shelley: the same people who are doing this are international drug trafffficker, they're international human traffickers. they have e a long time experience in evading law w enforcemen moving gogoods, having keyey facilitators of money and transport.
vira: they know where they need to go, they have buyers in place, and they're able to poach at really an industrial scale. peters: that's a highly organized, highly efficient orgaganized crime network thatas putting thatat type of operation together. narrator: between 2009 and 2014, organized criminal networks moved an estimated 170 tons of ivory, the yield from a quarter of a million dead elephants. vira: wewe estimate e that there probably are less than, you know, 25 of these networks operating globally that acununt for a very lararge proportion of t the trade. narrator: one of them is the xaysavang network, reported to be one of the largest transnational criminal networks to traffic wildlife. the u.s. department of state offered a $1 million reward, the first bounty ever placed by the agency for information leading to the dismantling of the network. vira: xaysavang is based out of
laos and is widely suspected that they have the complicity of s senior otian govevernment officials, whichch is part of te reason why, despite a bounty, despite all the attention, despite all l the investigative reporting, not very much is being done to really disrupt that network.. narrator: central and eastern africa are the current hotspots of elephant poaching. africans are the trigger pullers and transporters of the ivory from the bush to urban centers, where it's prepared for shipment from ports like mombasa, dar es salaam, and zanzibar. asian criminal syndicates momove the ivory through various transit points en route more often than not to china. alie: we see hiding of ivory under coffee, under avococados. these methods to conceal these products are very sophisticated. roberts: you might have a legal shipment in a giant shipping container that has 20 tons of cacapacity, , and that 20 tons f capacity is filled with 18 tons
of dried seaweed or stones or cashew nuts, a perfectly legal international commodity, but two tons of ivory smuggled in. alie: to undertake this type of transaction requires bribery, requires paying peopople off at each link of the chain. thornton: you can't have that kind of poacaching andnd that amount of ivory moving out of a country unless you havave some very big players that are right near the top that are protected people that protect the people that are doing all that destruction. vivira: it's not uncommon for ministers, it's not uncommon for local governors to be involved. huhutson: corruption that extens all the waway to the presidentnl level. the kinds of corruption that couldn't happenen without presidential a authorization from the presidents of congo and sudan and other countries as well. shelley: and therefore, there's no reason that the police will investigate this crime or that the courts will
be prosesecuting and jududging any of the really high level trtraffickers. so in most cases, the individuals are going scot-free because of high-level corruption. narrator: only an estimated 10% of traffickers ever get caught, and for those that do, penalties are usually small. massive numbers of elephants have been slaughtered for ivory before. knights: 1970 and 1989, african elephant numbersrs fell from 1.2 million to a around 450,000. narrator: ththat was more than half of the entitire elephant population of africa at that time. in the mid-1980s, the environmental investigation agency, or eia, an independent nongovernmental group, uncovered evidence about the scope of the ivory tradede.
they filmed secret c chinese ivy carvrving factories in dubai.. raw ivory was being partially carved there to avoid export permit costs when it was shipped to asia.a. thornton: there were 60 carvers working 16 hours a day carving ivory, and there were bags of ivory stacked 10 feet high. and those operations in three years went through 1,000 tons of ivory. narrator: the eia identified three chinese and one kenyan sysyndicate involved in the operatation. these findings helped build momentum for the 1989 international ban on ivory trade by the convention on international trade in endangered species, or cites. roberts: when you have a global, uniform, and unequiuivocal prohibitition on the trade in elephant ivory, a number of things happened. the prices for ivory dropped because the mamarket dries up,
and the market dries up because it becomeses taboo to hahave ths illegal product. and when the market t dries up, there's a disincentive to poacah elephants and kill them for the ivory. narrator: after the cites ban, elephant populations began to stabilize. thornton: anand everyone said there'e's elephant babies eveverywhere.. and it w was like a genuine miraracle, where the dramatic decline of these magnificent animals was stopped. roberts: butut what happened afafter that was that southehern african governrnments, namely botswana, namibia, and zimbabwe put incredible pressure e on cites parties s to reopen a quote/unquote limited ivory trade, allowing stockpile sales from stockpiles in those three african governments to one approved trading partner, japan. thorntnton: that t trade from me sosouthern afrfrican countntrieo japan stararted to leaead to an increa in poachi again. narrator: in a controversial
move in 2008, cites authorized a second sale of stockpiled ivory to japan and china. once china became involved, poaching skyrocketed. thornton: the allowing sale by cites of legal ivory to japan and chinina, all the evidence shows that w was a catastrophic blunder. narrator: ivory in african government stockpiles is confiscated, or r comes from culled or naturally deceased elephants. its sale is s legal, but legal ivory creates a stream of commerce in which illicit ivory, or ivory from poached elephants coconceals itselelf. the loophole in cites was that it only banned international ivory trade, not domestic trade or trade within a country's borders. thornton: what happens is that the smugglers can easily get the ivory into china or japan, and its de facto legal.
poe: these terrorists kill animals so they can get money to kill people. the combination of these two evils, the killing of endangered species and innocent civilians to further radical terrorism is an international threat. roberts: there is a real groundswell of concern about this issue the likes of which i haven't seen in the 23 years i've been doing g this work. prprince williamam: it is wrong that children growing up in countries vulnerable to wildlife crime are losing their birthrights in order to fuel the greed of international criminals. clinton: this is not just about elephants. it is about human beings. it is about governments trying to control their own territory, trying to keep their people safe, as well as protect their cultural and environmental heritage. narrator: wild aid, a nonprofit conservation group, is working to curb consumer demand for ivory. a number of international celebrities joined the campaign.
norton: if you buy elephant ivory, you may be part of a criminal gang. a gang of ruthless killers. [gunshot] a gang of smugglers. [gunshot] and cocorrupt officials. and becaususe you're paying g t, that makeses you the boss. whenen the buyining stops, the killing can, too. narrator: wild aid features celebrities like chinese basketball legend yao ming to educate the chinese public about ivory. knights: well, the chinese government has been very supportive. we''ve been very lucky that cctv, which is the main governmentnt run tv station in china, has r run our messages in prime time. hutson: when they're surveyed, up to 70% of chinese consumers say they didn't know that for ththem to buy an i ivory trinket means that an elephant actually
has to die. and oncece they learned that fact, most of them say they will no longer buy ivory. narrator: must africa's elephants go extinct? saving them calls for a multifaceted solution. hutson: we h he to look atat the demand side, at the supply side. we have to cooperate internationally.y. we have e to involve businesses and statecraft and private citizens and ngos and law enforcement, and we e have to ededucate people worldwide thatt your ivoryry trinkets mean that an elephant hasas to die.e. thornton: we need to go back to the total ivory ban, including completete ban on domestic t tre in china and japanan. if china and japanan banned domestic i ivory trade today, poaching will be going down