Following a brilliant piece of investigative journalism, reporter Bryan Christy deduced that most of the world’s black market ivory goes to China, according to NPR.
“China is the biggest consumer of illegal ivory . . . . Just a few years ago [China] purchased 60 tons of ivory from Africa, and it was that purchase that unleashed the notion that ivory is on the market again,” Christy told Terry Gross on Fresh Air. “[China] is paying the highest price per kilo for ivory.”
Christy described how he hired a taxidermist to design two fake tusks, outfitted with a GPS system to track their travel route. “These tusks . . . operate really like additional investigators, like members of our team, and almost like a robocop,” said Christy. This method allowed Christy to discover that most ivory ends up in China.
Christy had the superficial tusks specially designed to mimic the exact appearance, weight, and even the sound of ivory. The investigation gave us a firsthand insight into the habits and routes of illegal ivory traffickers.
Each year, 36,000 elephants are hunted for their tusks. From 2009 to 2012, 100,000 elephants were slaughtered. NPR reported that the methods of killing are vast: assault rifles, poisoned waterholes, and poison spears and arrows.