3 Timelines Show a World Turning Against Elephant Ivory

A 2012 story on the religious uses of illegal ivory spurred new efforts to save elephants. But the slaughter continues unabated.

The world has stepped up attempts to shut down the illegal ivory trade in recent years, though demand for ivory figures and trinkets still claims some 30,000 elephants a year.

Many of these changes can be traced to the publication of  "Blood Ivory," Bryan Christy's October 2012 cover story for National Geographic, which revealed to the world that religious icons account for large amounts of illegally traded elephant ivory and exposed flaws in the ivory trade regulatory system.

Those and other insights stirred new interest in the elephant poaching crisis, as did the 2013 National Geographic film Battle for the Elephants.

More Work to Be Done

Despite recent efforts to stop the elephant slaughter, the catastrophe continues, often at the hands of increasingly sophisticated networks of heavily armed poachers.

This Sunday, August 30, at 8 p.m., the National Geographic Channel's Explorer series premieres Warlords of Ivory. The film, which features Bryan Christy's investigative work, complements his September National Geographic cover story, "Ivory: A smuggled tusk. A hidden GPS chip. A crime story."

"The hope is that these new offerings, which show that the toll of the illegal ivory trade is devastating to people as well as to elephants, will help spur vigorous—and effective—action by the world community," says Terry Garcia, the chief science and exploration officer for the National Geographic Society.

Bryan Christy will be speaking in Washington, D.C., with National Geographic Live on October 22, 2015. Get an insider's look at how he is combating illegal wildlife trafficking around the globe.

Follow Brian Clark Howard on Twitter and Google+.

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