Youssou N'Dour will write and sing the original song!
Watch the teaser for our film below:
Stars of film and music are rallying for the cause, Leonardo Dicaprio, Tom Hardy and Kristin Davis, to name a few. We hope to support those fighting the cause by completing this documentary. You can see the work Leonardo Dicaprio is doing with his foundation at his site:
A conservative estimate for the number of elephants massacred for their ivory in Africa in 2013 is roughly 23,000, alimenting an illegal trade worth billions of US dollars annually. At this rate, experts estimate African elephants will disappear from the wild by 2025.
Director Sergey Yastrzhembskiy and producer Chris Bolzli are currently making a hard-hitting documentary that will combine the beauty of a nature documentary with the rhythm of an investigation thriller and highlight the global urgency of this cause.
Saving elephants is not only the duty of the NGOs and conservationists, but also a responsibility of politicians and the public at large – we must act together to help stop this catastrophe.
Elephant poaching is not just an issue for conservationists. It is something that affects us all directly or indirectly. Poaching in itself if destroying the world we know but also the money earned through the horrible crime is filtering back into the hands of criminals and militia to be used for wrong doing, local wars and even international terrorism.
This is a global problem that we must fight together. You will not be simply donating money, but becoming part of a collective of people who are grouping together to make real change. Our film is a collective effort to make our world a better place for future generations.
The Director - Sergey Yastrzhembskiy
For the past ten years, Sergey has dedicated his life to his passion for documentary photography and filmmaking, mainly throughout the African continent but also in other far flung corners of the globe. Out of this passion he made the international TV series dedicated to native African peoples, BEYOND THE PASSAGE OF TIME in 2011 and his first feature length documentary: AFRICA, BLOOD & BEAUTY which had it’s world premiere at the Montreal World Film Festival in 2011 and for which he won the Russian Cinema National Prize (the Golden Eagle) for Best Documentary 2013.
His documentary work has led him to make films defending peoples, animals and traditions threatened by the modern world, including shamans in northern Siberia or the practice of Voodoo across Africa. Of all the causes for which he has fought, the illegal ivory trade and the massacres that ravage the elephant population is perhaps his deepest concern. He feels it is his duty to urgently bring to public light this global scale scandal before it is too late.
The Producer - Chris Bolzli
Since 2003 Chris Bolzli joined forces with Claudie Ossard to make Paris, je t'aime. Their partnership has led to films by some of the world’s biggest talent, whether Wim Wenders, François Ozon or Alfonso Cuaron. Together they are producing films of international scope loved by critics and audiences alike.
Chris Bolzli began his career in the music industry as assistant to Claude Nobs, Founder of the world famous Montreux Jazz Festival. In the 1990s, his passion for cinema and Russia led him to produce films by pioneers of the Russian new wave, making films by Sergei Bodrov, Andreï Konchalovsky, Karen Shakhnazarov and the polish director Andrzej Zulawski. From here, he went on to produce a dozen European films, specializing in international coproduction. His relationship with the director/producer Sergey Yastrzhembskiy deepened his interest in and love of the African continent. Together they made the documentary AFRICA and now hope to reach audiences the world over with IVORY.
Why did you decide to make this documentary?
Two years ago, my eyes were opened to the illegal ivory trade while travelling in Africa. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing and immediately began researching this film. I could not imagine then the nightmare I would discover - for a normal person, it is difficult to understand that one elephant is killed every fifteen minutes in Africa.
In your opinion, what is the reason for the killings?
The documentary will reveal many of the factors that are causing this problem – from poachers, traffickers to consumers. The essence of the problem is based on three main factors:
- widespread poverty in Africa (it encourages new poachers to get involved in this criminal business),
- the all-pervading corruption all along the trading chain
- and the rising number of irresponsible middle class in Asia, in particular in China, that is creating a significant increase in demand for ivory products. We mustn’t forget, however, that large quantities of ivory also reach Europe, South America and the States.
A lot of countries are involved in this illegal trade?
Yes, the tentacles of the illegal trade spread over the globe. For me the trade is like a river delta, it quickly circumnavigates any obstacles laid in its path. I have already shot in more than 29 countries, including:
· In Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, Zambia, CAR, Chad, Senegal, Gabon, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Togo, Benin and Angola.
· In Europe and America: USA, Italy, France, UK, Russia, Israel and Vatican.
· In Asia: China, Hong Kong, India, Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Sri Lanka.
What footage do you have from these countries?
Some of the footage is dangerous undercover investigations; other footage reveals stories of hope – the people who are fighting the illegal ivory trade.
Do you think we can stop this trade?
Yes, I believe we can and that we must try! Alone, I do not have the answer to this question, but together we will achieve our goal. If we do not stop poachers and the illegal ivory trade now, in the lifetime of our children - that is, within 20 years - there will be no wild elephants left in Africa.
It is necessary to use all means available to us - articles, photo exhibitions, social media, films - to "wake up" as many people as possible to the issue by showing them that any delay in elephant conservation equals a new death.
I am a documentary maker, so my personal tool is cinema. Help me finish this film and show it around the world to spread the word and create support for the cause at public and political levels.
I’d also like to add that I have encountered incredible NGOs and individuals fighting the battle against the horrific trade. For this reason, we will donate a portion of this crowdfunding campaign and a portion of our box office receipts to these NGOs to bring direct action to the countries directly concerned.
To help you understand the importance of this film:
- In recent years, elephant poaching in Africa and illegal ivory trade have spiralled out of control.
- According to experts, an average of nearly 35,000 elephants is killed annually on the continent, which means that one elephant dies every 15 minutes.
- Given that only 450,000-600,000 wild elephants are left today in Africa, if the same rate of poaching continues, this may lead to local extinction of elephants in some parts of Africa within 20 years.
- The price of one kilo of elephant ivory on the black market (more per kilo than gold) has made ivory also a financial contributor to terrorism. Such organizations as al-Shabaab (Somalia), The Lord’s Resistance Army (Uganda), Janjaweed (Sudan) kill elephants and illegally sell ivory to finance their activities and buy weapons.
2. Political context
- The problem of saving elephants is not only the duty of the NGOs and conservationists, but also a responsibility of the public at large and politicians.
- The UN General Assembly and the Security Council have repeatedly discussed this problem.
- For the first time it was put on the agenda at the US-China summit in 2013.
- The Barack Obama Administration allocated money to finance anti-poaching activities in Africa.
- Hillary Clinton initiated the establishment of a foundation to save African elephants.
- In 2014 Prince Charles initiated the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London. The scale of illegal wildlife trafficking (including tusks, horns, and fell) has reached $10-20 billion (according to different sources), placing wildlife trafficking among the top five most lucrative forms of transnational organized crime, including trafficking in drugs, weapons, and humans.
- For the first time in history tens of tons of seized ivory were publicly destroyed (burnt or crashed by bulldozers) in France (02/06/14), USA (11/14/2013), Chad (02/21/2014), China (01/06/2014), Hong Kong (05/15/2014), and Philippines (06/21/2013).
- In 2012 the Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation made a grant of $ 1 million to the Elephant Crisis Fund, a joint initiative created by Wildlife Conservation Network and Save the Elephants.
Who are they?
During the filming of this documentary, we have been lucky enough to meet, film and work with many different organisations working to defend the plight of the elephants. These include:
СITES Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, CITES is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) conserves and manages Kenya’s wildlife for the Kenyan people and the world
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (Kenya) is the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world and one of the pioneering conservation organizations for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa.
Save the Elephants (Kenya) is an organisation whose aim is to to secure a future for elephants and to sustain the beauty and ecological integrity of the places they live; to promote man’s delight in their intelligence and the diversity of their world, and to develop a tolerant relationship between the two species
Future for Nature's International Selection Committee (Kenya). Future For Nature highlights the work and achievements of the FFN Award winners as role models who can pass on the passion for wildlife conservation to other young people.
SCI (USA) Safari Club International is a non-profit organization with missions including the conservation of wildlife, protection of hunters’ rights worldwide, and the education of the public on hunting as a conservation tool.
ETIS (Elephant Trade Information System) is a system for tracking the illegal trade in ivory and other elephant products. This database has been tracking seizures of elephant specimens occurring worldwide since 1989
TRAFFIC (UK) is the wildlife trade monitoring network
LAGA (Cameroon) The Last Grape Apa Organization is the first Wildlife Law Enforcement NGO in Africa and unique in its approach and activities, working in close collaboration with Governments
EIA (UK) Environmental Investigation Agency is an independent campaigning organization committed to bringing about change that protects the natural world from environmental crime and abuse
ANPN (Gabon) Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux is the state institution responsible for the implementation of government policy on national parks. Among their missions is the wildlife protection
IFAW (South Africa) International Fund for Animal Welfare saves the individuals animals, animal populations and habitats all over the world
INTERPOL (France) is the most important police international organisation with 190 countries members
WARA Conservation project (Guinea and Senegal) Wildlife protection association
Conservation Justice (Gabon) Conservation Justice aims to protect elephants in addition to other threatened species in Gabon from illegal hunting and wildlife trade by increasing the level of wildlife law enforcement nationwide and deterring potential elephant poachers and ivory traders from conducting these activities. Conservation Justice collaborates closely with LAGA
Hong Kong for Elephants (Hong Kong) is a coalition of concerned individuals and NGOs that seek to end the ivory trade in Hong Kong and China by curbing demand
Zakouma National Park (Chad) Their conservation approach combines habitat management, wildlife introduction and monitoring programs, as well as related research.
Kruger National Park (SA) Their mission is to develop, manage and promote a system of national parks that represents the biodiversity and heritage assets by applying best practice, environmental justice, benefit sharing and sustainable use.
This list is, of course, non exhaustive, many other organisations are fighting in the defence of the wildlife across Africa and other continents.
Making this film has enriched me with new acquaintances, and even friendships, with amazing people who devote themselves to the protection of elephants in Africa. In particular, Gerard Sournia (France), Nir Kalron (Israel), Charlotte Houpline (France), the Labuschagne family (South Africa), Daphne Sheldrick and the Douglas-Hamilton family (Kenya).
Thanks to these people the world is hearing about the massacre going on in Africa and elephants are actively being saved.
Gerard Sournia - Gérard Sournia has a doctorate in tropical geography. He is specialist in the evolution of natural & modified habitats and edited the book “Water and Men” published by Monza.
Nir Kalron – CEO Maisha Consulting Ltd. - Maisha Consulting Ltd. is a network of security experts with an accumulated expertise of 50 years of strategic and operational consulting in technology, geo-political and risk related matters. Maisha places a unique focus on Environment Security. Conducting projects ranging from anti-poaching, anti trafficking, intelligence and investigations as well as innovative technological solutions tailored for environmental security. Maisha is involved in the forefront of conservation in Africa. Focusing our resources on the research and creation of security concepts for the growing phenomenon of environmental crime.
Charlotte Houpline - a passionate French wildlife activist and founder of WARA, a French organization for the protection of wildlife. She now has two branches of the organisation in Guinea Conakry known in French as Guinea- Application de la Loi Faunique (GALF) and another branch in Senegal. WARA follows the model of law enforcement organisation, The Last Great Ape (LAGA) created by former Israeli soldier and writer Ofir Drori in Cameroon, which spies on, helps in getting traffickers arrested, and puts them behind prison bars. Last week GALF celebrated when it succeeded in getting Ousmane Diallo, one of the most notorious Guinea Conakry traffickers sentenced to one year in prison, for wildlife crimes in a Guinean Court.
Rian Labuschagne and his family - manager of Zakouma National Park in southern Chad.
Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick D.B.E - David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust - Born from one family’s passion for Kenya and its wilderness, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is today the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world and one of the pioneering conservation organisations for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa.
Iain Douglas-Hamilton OBE, and family. Douglas-Hamilton is a zoologist known for his study of elephants. He earned both a B.Sc. in biology and a D. Phil in zoology from Oxford University, and he is the recipient of the 2010 Indianapolis Prize for his work on elephant conservation. His chief research interest is to understand elephant choices by studying their movements. In 1993, he founded the organization Save the Elephants. He is a frequent keynote speaker at the annual Wildlife Conservation Network expo.