Sales of ivory from elephant poaching are skyrocketing to levels that by some estimates are putting the world’s population elephants at risk of extinction in ten years if it doesn’t stop.
The plight of elephants is told in a new documentary film which is screening this week at the University of Vermont
Dr. Laurel Neme has done extensive research on the poaching problem, and has written about poaching of elephants for National Geographic and in the book “Animal Investigators.” Neme says the industry is also attractive to terrorist organizations and militia groups in Africa.
“They don’t care where they get their funding from, whether it’s drug trafficking, human trafficking or ivory trafficking. They have the networks to move contraband across borders and to sell it at high prices,” said Neme.
Neme says elephants have an incredible capacity for emotion and memory , and says family is very important to the animals.
“When they’ve fostered elephants and then released them into the wild, every one of the ones that they have raised has come back to their human families to show and introduce their own babies, born in the wild, to their keepers. One of the elephants who had been fostered hadn’t seen his keeper in 35 years, and she recognized him right away,” said Neme.
Neme says demanding higher penalties on ivory trafficking is something people here in Vermont can do advocate for elephants.
“Battle for the Elephants,” will be screened Thursday, Oct. 17 at 4 pm at the Ira Allen Chapel in Burlington. A panel discussion will follow. Doors open at 3:30 pm and the event is free and open to the public.