One of the most magnificent and charismatic creatures on the planet has been close to extinction for many years.
Yet last year more elephants were slaughtered for their ivory tusks since an international ban on the ivory trade was implemented in 1989 – as many as 50,000 according to some sources.
Perhaps elephants evoke so much feeling in us because of the way they play, their complex social rules, how they take care of their young and the importance of family in this smart, powerful animal.
Whatever the case, if you love elephants you’ll want to watch two programs this week on KSPS TV in Spokane. They both air Wednesday, Feb. 27 from 7 to 9p.m.
The first, Echo: An Elephant to Remember is an extraordinary film that looks back over the subject of several NATURE films about Echo, the elephant matriarch of a family of elephants in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. Although Echo died in 2009, she was one of the most studied elephants ever, and has been well-loved since her debut on BBC when David Attenborough went to Kenya in the early 1990’s to film her. Some of the footage is remarkable such as the rescue of Echo’s tiny daughter after she was stolen by another group of elephants.
The second film, Battle for the Elephants, a film created in partnership with National Geographic Television, details the story of the fight to save the earth’s most charismatic land animal. Filmmakers go undercover exposing the deep underbelly of the network of poachers who kill the animals for their tusks fueled largely by China’s hunger for ivory.
The film traces the ivory trade and its impact on Africa’s elephant population of the past two centuries. In 1800, an estimated 20 million elephants roamed Africa. By 1913, only 10 million elephants remained and by 1989 only 600,000 elephants were alive.
A worldwide ban on ivory sales in 1989 resulted in the elephant population rebounding to about 1 million. But since then the black market has exploded and last year alone 25,000 elephants were killed in Africa; in Tanzania alone, poachers kill 30 elephants per day.
This premiere, the story of the criminal network behind ivory's supply and demand, promises to be an amazing exploration of the loss of these magnificent creatures and the thriving industry of luxury goods made from ivory and the ancient cultural tradition of ivory carving.