DISCOVERY'S "IVORY WARS" A SHOCKING, IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE ILLEGAL POACHING THAT IS DECIMATING AFRICAN ELEPHANTS
One-Hour Special Premieres Saturday, June 23rd at 8PM E/P
(Silver Spring, Md.) - In 1989, four years after Discovery Channel first launched, the network brought to U.S. audiences the landmark television documentary IVORY WARS, sheddinglight on the severity of the elephant poaching situation in Africa. Now, despite a 23-year international ban on ivory trade, African elephants are under siege once again, being killed for their tusks - with much of the ivory going to the Far East where demand is especially high. Last year marked the most illegal ivory seizures in more than two decades. One area of northern Kenya lost a quarter of its elephants in just the last three years, largely due to poaching. With the long term survival of the world's largest land mammal at risk in parts of Arica, Discovery Channel and BBC have teamed up to investigate the illegal practices of both poaching and selling ivory from African elephants for the one-hour special IVORY WARS,premiering on Discovery Channel Saturday, June 23rd at 8PM E/P.
"When Discovery Channel aired the groundbreaking Ivory Wars special in 1989, it really shed a light on where much of the world's ivory was coming from and the horrific practices being used to obtain it," said Eileen O'Neill, Group President, Discovery and TLC Networks. "For many, it was an eye-opening experience. Now, 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 magnificant animals."
Said Fred O'Regan, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) President: "The time to act is now! Last year (2011) was the worst year on record for large-scale ivory seizures. Elephant populations, especially those in West and Central Africa, are being decimated to furnish the insatiable demand for ivory in the East, notably China. We can't afford to go back to the ivory wars of the 1980's - Africa's elephant populations will not survive this time round."
In the special, filmmakers find elephant carcasses with their tusksbrutally removed, visit an elephant orphanage to see first-hand the impact this poaching has had on the young and seek out ivory dealers in Africa and China - now the world's largest market for illegal ivory. Many fear that, unless China curbs its massive appetite for ivory, the long-term future of the African elephant is in jeopardy.
And it isn't just the elephants being killed for their tusks. In six years, the ivory war has claimed the lives of 12 wildlife rangers and more than 60 poachers in Kenya alone. Ivory is big business and poaching continues. In one area of northern Kenya, ivory poaching surged in 2011 to a level unprecedented in 14 years of monitoring while local prices for raw ivory increased from $28/pound to four times that much.
IVORY WARS, a shocking, in-depth view of the threats faced by these great giants from poachers and dealers and a profile of those who strive to protect them, was Executive Produced by Julian Hector and Produced by Charlotte Scott for BBC and Executive Produced by Brooke Runnette with Kristin Wilcox for Discovery Channel.