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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America’s Dirty Secret: Coal Ash

In Juliette, Georgia radioactive water flows from the tap. In Pennsylvania, three adjoining counties battle a rare form of cancer. One thing these communities have in common is their exposure coal ash. Coal combustion powers 40 percent of America’s electricity but generates 130 million tons of coal ash each year. Though it is known to contain carcinogens, coal ash is often dumped in unlined ponds where it leaches into groundwater. There is no federal coal ash regulation on the books—only a patchwork of state level standards.

Toxic Futures: Untold Stories of Chemical Pollution

(Earth Focus: Episode 56) Exposure to toxic chemicals affects people in both the industrialized and developing world. Earth Focus looks at how Toms River, a New Jersey town, fought back to save its drinking water from toxic waste dumping by dye manufacturer Ciba Geigy and by Union Carbide. Then, a look at the new film Amazon Gold, which addresses illegal gold mining in Peru and its tragic impact on human health and the environment.

Nuclear Power: America Goes Naked

"Going naked" is how the insurance industry describes not having insurance. And when it comes to the worst hazards of nuclear power — America is going naked. Correspondent Miles Benson investigates why the U.S. nuclear power industry is underinsured by hundreds of billions of dollars. He also speaks with Australian physician, author and nuclear industry critic Dr. Helen Caldicott on the health effects of nuclear radiation including cancers, fetal damage and genetic mutation.

Restoring The Earth

(Earth Focus: Episode 53) It is possible to rehabilitate large-scale damaged ecosystems, to improve the lives of people trapped in poverty and to sequester carbon naturally. John Liu presents "Hope in a Changing Climate," which showcases approaches that have worked on the Loess Plateau in China, Ethiopia and Rwanda. Produced in collaboration with the Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP).

Shades of Gray: Living with Wolves

Gray wolves once ranged across North America. But by the 1930s, they were nearly extinct — trapped, poisoned and hunted by ranchers, farmers, and government agents. With protection under the 1973 Endangered Species Act, the wolf population rebounded. But wolves lost federal protection in 2011. Now, with hunting permitted in many Western states, the future of this once endangered species may again be in question. Can we live with wolves? "Earth Focus" travels to Montana and Wyoming to find out.