Nov 102016
 


It is obviously more than a game and this documentary directed by Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani – and exec-produced by Leonardo DiCaprio – showing on Netflix, brings a new urgency to an old subject: the ivory trade, which is threatening the world’s elephants.

This threat has not been cancelled or brought under control, as I had assumed. The film persuasively argues that it is all but out of control: so much so that elephants are in danger of being wiped out in the wild in just a matter of years. One of the biggest mammals on Earth might vanish.

And the market forces driving the trade stem from just one country: China, where there is a huge appetite for luxury goods made of ivory. Well-organised criminal gangs poach the elephants, and get the ivory in container ships to China via south east Asia: the Vietnamese connection.

Burning issue … The Ivory Game Photograph: PR

In the most grisly way, the well-publicised extinction threat and outrage are themselves creating the luxury cachet and driving up the price, encouraging the market which in turn worsens the danger still further.

With elephants in such dire straits, competing poachers and illicit buyers know not just that they can make a fortune, but that there is only a short period of time in which to do it. The price rises all the time, and the window of opportunity is closing as well. They are in an extinction race to the bottom.

And if elephants disappear in the wild, these same market forces in luxury goods mean that other species will be in danger too: the rhino, the giraffe, the lion. We are wearing down the fabric of biodiversity.

Photograph: PR

The awful truth appears to be that the Chinese government has legitimised and stimulated this trade by creating a notional legal “allowance” for domestic consumption of ivory, which naturally only encourages the black marketers to use this supposed legality to launder their mountains of illicit material. Any artefact, any brutally severed tusk, can always be claimed to come under the “legal” umbrella.

An anti-poaching campaigner says: “One person holds in his hands the fate of elephants: the president of China. I think it is the first time in history that one person has in his hands the destiny of an entire species.” An observer is entitled to wonder if this situation is being helped by any possible state corruption in Africa. Investigating that isn’t the point of the film. But China’s huge semi-legalised ivory hunger is certainly the driving force.

The film is perhaps a little too excitable and enamoured of its own narc-thriller style, with mannerisms that reminded me of Paul Greengrass or Michael Mann: particularly the scenes of Swat-type attacks and dramatic overhead shots of cars moving swiftly across open country.

After a while, I felt that any time the film spends not demanding to speak to the Chinese president is a waste of time. But maybe the more realistic solution is not to focus on China, but on stronger protective action on the supply side, in Africa. In any event: a committed, valuable film.

This article was first published by The Guardian on 31 Oct 2016.

 

Subscribe to our FREE Newsletter

 

 

Share this post with your friends





Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

avatar
trackback

[…] Origen: Video: The Ivory Game – timely account of elephants’ death throes » Focusing on Wildlife […]

Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days

  1. POLL: Should Japan be sanctioned for slaughtering dolphins and whales? – [2426 Views]
  2. POLL: Should the UK finally abandon its controversial badger cull? – [2167 Views]
  3. POLL: Should fox hunting legislation be repealed in the UK? – [2165 Views]
  4. POLL: Should the trophy hunting of Grizzly Bears be banned nationwide? – [2013 Views]
  5. Arctic Fox and Snowy Owl Filmed Doing Strange ‘Dance’ – But Why? – [1807 Views]
  6. How Sea Shepherd lost battle against Japan’s whale hunters in Antarctic – [1261 Views]
  7. POLL: Should We Revive Extinct Species? – [1117 Views]
  8. POLL: Should the Cheetah be classified as “Endangered”? – [1113 Views]
  9. It’s a Miracle! Wisdom Lays an Egg at Age 67 – [1038 Views]
  10. POLL: Should drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge be banned? – [980 Views]

Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months

  1. POLL: Should hunting with hounds be banned? – [7727 Views]
  2. Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [4826 Views]
  3. POLL: Should there be a worldwide ban on fur farming? – [4201 Views]
  4. POLL: Should the trophy hunting of bears and wolves be banned? – [4055 Views]
  5. POLL: Should foxes be culled to protect domestic pets? [3799 Views]
  6. POLL: Should Japan be sanctioned for slaughtering dolphins and whales? – [3285 Views]
  7. POLL: Should the slaughter of badgers in the UK be finally stopped? – [3077 Views]
  8. POLL: Should the cruel sport of bullfighting be banned? [2873 Views]
  9. POLL: Should Canada ban the hunting of seals? [2667 Views]
  10. POLL: Should the Tories be allowed to bring back fox hunting? [2578 Views]