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.

Upcoming Airdates

America’s Dirty Secret: Coal Ash

(Earth Focus: Episode 64) 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.

Neonicotinoids: The New DDT?

(Earth Focus: Episode 69) Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticides in the world. But they've been linked to the decline of honeybees, which pollinate many food crops. And scientists now say neonicotinoids also harm many terrestrial, aquatic, and marine invertebrates. These pervasive insecticides damage sea urchin DNA, suppress the immune systems of crabs, and affect the tunneling and reproductive behavior of earthworms. They kill off insects that many birds, amphibians, and reptiles rely on for food.

Arise: Women Protecting The Environment

(Earth Focus: Episode 42) A look at the award-winning film "Arise!" and its documentation of the intellectual and spiritual insights that women from around the world bring to solving today's environmental challenges. Mother/daughter filmmakers Lori Joyce, Candace Orlando, and executive producer Molly Ross reflect on the making of the film.

Biodiversity and Health

(Earth Focus: Episode 41) What do plants, snakes, molds, marine sponges, and cone snails have in common? They have helped develop medicines that save human lives. Biodiversity -- the variety of life on Earth -- is key to human survival. But plants, animals, and microorganisms are disappearing at unprecedented rates. What impact will this have on human health? Find out in this Earth Focus special report produced in collaboration with the Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School.