By: Katie Kilbane
The Ivory Game is one of my most recent watches on Netflix. Leonardo DiCaprio, who is an activist on environmental issues, was executive producer of the documentary that chronicles the alarming amount of elephants being killed in Africa.
The World Wild Fund for Nature says nearly 35,000-40,000 elephants are killed every year leaving an estimated 415,000 left in Africa.
Their ivory, which has a large market value, is sold at high prices and thousands of elephants are left to scavengers looking for a meal. The animals can even be cut up and have their meat and skin sold.
One of the images shows a warehouse overflowing with elephant tusks, some weighing in at over 100 pounds. According to the BBC, one pound can be worth up to $ 1,100. A lucrative business for poachers involved. The tusks are counted, sorted and eventually burned.
The film follows men who see an opportunity to make a difference, even if it might leave them in dangerous situations. Hongxiang Huang is a native to the country and since he ‘blends in’ with the population, exploiting illegal ivory trade came much easier to him. Hooked up with secret a camera and mic, he was able to get evidence that suggested sellers were overstepping the legal amount of ivory trade. Watching Huang risk being exposed for his true purpose is courageous because he saw a purpose greater than himself.
Thankfully, ivory is now going to be harder to obtain. China announced at the end of 2016 that all ivory sales will cease at the end of 2017. Elephants now have a chance to make a comeback to their habitats and activists can continue to be the voice for these mammals.
The Ivory Game does not just promote the protection of African Elephants, but rather tell a story of individuals working together from different walks of life, countries and even languages to make a difference in the world. Their documentary shows that no cause is too big to conquer.