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Author: Eric Campbell
Source: ABC News
Date: 2 May, 2013 

In an outdoor café in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar Es Salaam, a dirty deal is being brokered. An agent claiming to represent a clientele of ivory buyers in Asia is shaking down the bona fides of two black-market ivory traders. His bodyguard is also asking questions. How much can they provide? How good is the quality of their inventory? How reliable and discreet can they be?

In an important first step to establish trust and to answer some of those questions, the four are soon heading to a secret destination to view some sample stock.

It’s a deal done daily and many times over in one of the world’s biggest ivory thoroughfares. Only the Mzungu (white) buyer and his security guard won’t be following through on a prospective deal to buy hundreds of kilos of ivory. Foreign Correspondent’s Eric Campbell and the world’s top wildlife ranger, Australian Sean Willmore are exposing a sickening, destructive and booming trade that’s sending Africa’s Elephant on a tearaway ride to extinction.

“It’s absolutely a war. It’s an untold war.” SEAN WILLMORE, RANGER

In Tanzania it’s estimated more than 60 elephants are being killed every day, the ivory from the tusks spirited through corrupt channels out of Dar es Salaam and off to markets in Asia. The biggest and most lucrative is in China where an enormous, cashed up new middle class are in love with ivory trinkets and utensils, even chopsticks.

“In the last five years the demand for ivory has just exploded. They’re getting ivory from Africa into containers, into international waters and into Hong Kong and (mainland) China. It’s well organised. Syndicates with billions of dollars. It’s just like cocaine and heroin, so how do you fight them?” 

In this disturbing and powerful return edition of Foreign Correspondent, we chart the rapid decline of the African elephant and investigate the dirty business that’s doing them in. From an opening encounter with a lost and exhausted orphaned baby elephant, through Tanzania’s sanctioned wildlife hunting operations, on patrol with an under-resourced and poorly armed, rag tag army of rangers and on into the labrynth of the black market ivory trader, it’s an African Safari like no other.

It’s a journey that leads us to the door of veteran elephant saviour and wildlife campaigner Daphne Sheldrick and her baby elephant sanctuary in Kenya. It’s Dame Sheldrick who make’s a chilling, disillusioned prediction.

“I think elephants could disappear in the next 20 years. It’s a terrible thing. But it’s up to the international community to do something about it isn’t it?” DAME DAPHNE SHELDRICK

Further Information

For more information and to find out how you can help the elephants and rangers:
The Thin Green Line Foundation
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Big Life Foundation
African Wildlife Foundation 

Read article in ABC News