Executive producer Leonardo DiCaprio’s dramatic new documentary film, The Ivory Game, opens with Tanzania’s top intelligence officer, Elisifa Ngowi, leading a raid on a village where informants say a poaching syndicate is operating. The manhunt closes in on notorious ivory trafficker ‘Shetani Hana Huruma’ (Pitiless Devil).
Film directors Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson, take the ‘villains and heroes’ approach to get the audience’s heart going in this ‘racing extinction’ expose of the evils of the ivory trade and the horror of 150,000 elephants murdered over the last five years.
Elisifa Ngowi is a co-founding head of Tanzania’s National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (NTSCIU). They are closely aligned with the Wildlife Crime Unit of Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources & Tourism (MNRT). Together, and with the focused support of PAMS Foundation, they have been turning the tide on poaching. Their innovative approach to wildlife protection targets poachers, buyers and high level traders, followed by thorough and professional case preparation and prosecution.
The arrested “Shetani” Boniface Matthew Mariango, also known as the ‘King of Ivory’ is currently being prosecuted in connection with the illegal possession of 118 pieces of elephant tusks worth almost 1 million USD.
The NTSCIU were also responsible for the arrest of the “Queen of ivory” Yang Feng Glan. Investigations into the ivory smuggling case facing the Chinese woman are completed and the court case is currently being heard. The accused was allegedly involved in the smuggling and trading in 706 elephant tusks weighing 1,889 kilograms, worth $ 2,5 million.
PAMS Foundation co-founder and Director, Wayne Lotter says, “We believe that ivory poaching was reduced by approximately two thirds in Tanzania last year, after the intelligence-led campaign we’ve been supporting was implemented virtually nationwide since November 2014. The right strategy is most important in effectively address wildlife trafficking in source countries, far more so than on how much money is made available for stopping elephant and rhino poaching. Instead of all the debate being about whether or not to trade rhino horn and ivory, there should also be a spotlight on governments who continue to implement inadequate strategies that have no realistic chance of successfully addressing the slaughter.”
Krissie Clark, co-founding Director of PAMS Foundation argues, “There are only two ways in which we can address the rhino and elephant poaching problem. One is if the buying of their illegal ivory and horn stops. The other is to implement realistic protection campaigns across the entire national landscape, not just in the bush”.
Mr. Lotter reiterates, “It is far too simplistic to expect to be able to combat the illegal trade network by supporting and equipping rangers in the bush only. Contrary to the popular notion punted, rangers are not the front line in the war. We represent the last line of defense. The home guard. The only way to neutralize a network is with a network of protection, law enforcement, community, security, intelligence and prosecution specialists working together.”
The Ivory Game is produced by Terra Mater Factual Studios and Vulcan Productions and is available for viewing on Netflix.
Donations to the MNRT Wildlife Crime Unit and to contribute to Elisifa Ngowi’s work with the Tanzania’s National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (NTSCIU) can be done through PAMS Foundation.