I had been putting off watching this brand new documentary that came onto Netflix on the 4th November because I knew how hard it would be to watch. Most animal based documentaries I watch makes me feel like my heart is breaking in two, I get upset for the animals and I get ashamed of the human race because we are usually the ones doing something horrific and unnecessary to them. Needless to say, like all the other documentaries I have watched I manned up and got over this initial hesitation for the greater good. Once you watch something and learn more about it you become part of the solution by sharing those important messages, so today I watched 'The Ivory Game'.
'The Ivory Game' is a Netflix original documentary about the ivory trade, this documentary takes us through the poaching problems that rangers face in Africa. We follow the planning, undercover work and capture of illegal Ivory traders and poachers. You get to see the some of the shear scale of this problem. I knew it was a big issue but like other problems, as it's not on our door step and in our faces all the time it's easy to forget how severe of an issue it is. Leading up to this documentary coming out there has been quite a number of programs and news stories surrounding the ivory trade, the problem is being highlighted more which is great to see. Most recently, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has had a very informative series on the BBC called 'Saving Africa's Elephants : Hugh and the Ivory War' which has been shown on Monday nights and I'm sure it will stay on iPlayer for a while so you can catch up if you've missed it.
This documentary hit me hard, within the first twenty minutes I cried and then I continued to cry at different parts in the film. It's sad to know that ivory trade exists in such strength and whats worse is that it has been going on for so long without much argument and hardly any protective legislation in place.
There was a part in the film where the rangers found the carcass' of four elephants who had recently been poached for their tusks. Four majestic elephants lying lifelessly on the floor, de-trusked, mutilated and looking like a mere shadow of themselves. One of the rangers was talking about their behaviours and what they would have done if they sensed danger, they would have tried to protect the youngest one and stick together as much as possible. You can see these four died very close to each other, keeping their family and companion bonds until the end. A precious life that has been living for so long just cut short so quickly by vicious greed. Awful.
Elephants are extremely intelligent, I don't even think we can fully grasp how intelligent they are - like so many other animals there is still a lot we do not understand or know about them. In the documentary a ranger speaks of how elephants come back time after time to where another elephant has died, they may be related or just a companion in the heard. They come to pay their respects as it were, running their trunks along the bones and he said they have been known to return bits of tusks scattered around to the skull they came from. A certain 6th sense maybe, but that all shows a level of intelligence that I had certainly not fully appreciated.
Another powerful image in the documentary are the clips from the ivory burning in Kenya. I saw this in the news and also on Hugh's programme but it was good to see it highlighted in this documentary too. Kenya gathered and burnt 105 tonnes of ivory tusks and 1.35 tons of rhino horn in a statement to show that they are against the ivory trade. President Kenyatta of Kenya said in a speech at the burning - 'For us, ivory is worthless unless it is on our elephants'. I certainly agree with him! It is hugely positive to see the local governments and politicians taking a stand against this horrible trade.
Kenya has lost 80% of its elephants in 50 years, a staggering statistic and one that we can help prevent from growing. Even though we here in the U.K are not faced with poaching problems directly, we do still have something to do with the ivory trade. The U.K government has recently brought something of a ban in the ivory trade, this however was only on ivory younger than 70 years old. I, like so many other conservationists and animal advocates believe this is not enough.
It is our global responsibility to show that the ivory trade is NOT acceptable in any form, we cannot possibly watch while these animals go extinct because of us. Please sign this extremely important online petition to shut down the domestic ivory market in the U.K. There needs to be a total ban on ALL ivory sales - no matter what the age.
Be a part of the solution, watch 'The Ivory Game', share the message, sign the petition.