Elephants

Illicit Ivory

Every twenty minutes an elephant is killed to feed an insatiable demand for ivory. African elephants may be gone in as little as ten years. Behind the slaughter are the most dangerous groups in the world – organized crime syndicates, insurgents and terrorists. Ivory buys guns and ammunition for Uganda's Lord’s Resistance Army and Sudan's Janjaweed, both linked to mass atrocities and supports al Shabaab, the al Qaeda affiliate behind the attacks on Kenya’s Westgate Mall and Garissa University. Making the biggest money on Illicit ivory trade are organized criminal syndicates that traffic humans, narcotics and guns. The killing of Africa's elephants is not only a conservation issue - it is a matter of global security.

Elephants have lived in the savannas and forests of Africa for more than two million years. They are the largest land animals on Earth – and one of the most intelligent. They feel emotions like grief and joy. They learn, play, display compassion and altruism. Some experts say they even have a sense of humor. Can African elephants survive in the wild? A global effort is underway to help save them. Will it be enough?

 

Read about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's national ban against the trade of elephant ivory in this New York Times story.

Full Episodes

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Vanishing Coral

“Vanishing Coral” presents the personal story of scientists and naturalists who are working with local communities to protect coral reefs that are being destroyed by warming seas, pollution, and destructive fishing practices. Featured in the documentary is the President of the Biosphere 2 Foundation Abigail Alling, marine biologist and coral expert Phil Dustan, captain of the Mir research sailing vessel Mark Van Thillo, and Nono Suparno, a leading conservationist in Bali.

Climate Science In Action

Whether they are researching the pace of Alaskan glacier melt or measuring the impact of Arctic sea ice changes on our our weather, climate scientists go to some of the most remote areas on Earth to help us understand our environment. The Juneau Icefield Research Program (JIRP) brings scientists and students together annually to study glaciers. Jeff Barbee reports on the 2013 JIRP expedition. Julienne Stroeve of the National Snow and Ice Data Center looks at the impact changes in Arctic sea ice may have on weather patterns.

Unsafe: The Truth Behind Everyday Chemicals

There are tens of thousands of chemicals in our air, water, and in the everyday products we use. They are largely unregulated and few are adequately tested for safety. They contribute to disease and are linked to conditions such as asthma, autism, ADHD, diabetes, cancers, infertility, cognitive disorders, obesity, reproductive disorders and birth defects. "Earth Focus" looks at endocrine disruptors, ubiquitous chemicals that affect development, metabolism, fertility and intelligence at extremely low doses and at what measures could be taken to better ensure public safety.

Tortoise In Peril

Desert tortoises are a threatened species. Habitat destruction, diseases and other factors have reduced their numbers by up to 90 percent. Now flocks of ravens, that often live off human trash, are eating baby tortoises, reducing the odds of tortoise survival as a species. This documentary explores that impact, pointing out how people can change the environment through seemingly innocent actions.

Maritime Pollution Exposed

(Earth Focus: Episode 46) Between 70-210 million gallons of waste oil are illegally dumped at sea by commercial ships each year. In fish, marine oil pollution is linked to cancers, tumors, reduced growth rates, genetic side effects, and death. It is also toxic to seabirds and marine mammals including whales, sea otters, and dolphins. The new film "Oil in Our Waters" exposes this practice. Film director Micah Fink shares his findings with "Earth Focus" and explains new ways citizens can now help stop illegal oil dumping.