The Ivory Game: Elephants in Crisis

The Netflix Original documentary The Ivory Game directed by Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson exposes the harsh brutality of Elephant poaching and its illegal ivory trade. The title sequence immediately grabs the viewer with the stunning views of the African landscape as well as jarring imagery of elephant tusks and facts about the elephant population of Africa. Reminding viewers that every 15 minutes an elephant is poached and killed. This epidemic has reached a crisis point with an estimated 15 years until elephants are extinct on the continent.

Over the last 5 years 150,000 elephants have been killed for ivory and the film doesn’t waste time throwing the viewer into the hunt for one of the most infamous poachers in Africa… Boniface aka Shetani who runs a large poaching syndicate throughout East and Southern Africa. His syndicate of poachers are estimated to have killed up to 10,000 elephants for ivory trade.


Produced by Oscar winning-actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Paul Allen this riveting film pulls back the curtain on the operations of African poachers and their relationships with ivory dealers in China. It captures the stunning scenery of African landscapes and their elephants and features characters from Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia as well as their counterparts in China.


In China where there is still a legal market in ivory even if it is illegal in the rest of the world. This legal market deals with quantities monitored by government estimated at 5 tonnes every year. Sadly the demand is higher than that hence the use of legal licences to launder illegal ivory, the money made off one piece of ivory can easily reach $300,000 dollars on the legal market so one can only imagine illegal prices.


Craig Millar Head of Security at the Big Life Foundation (Kenya) explains, “Elephants cannot protect themselves against a concentrated effort to poach them, no matter what they do, firearms and poachers will win every time. So everything we do is aimed at helping those elephants fight back.”

The film was shot over 16 months and required the production team and their sources, journalists and rangers to work undercover and risk their lives. These front-line rangers and undercover operatives are the champions of the elephants and seek justice for the slaughtered as well as the protection of the remaining species. The film shows how they put themselves in life threatening situations infiltrating camps set up by poachers and the seedy underbelly of ivory trade in China and Hong Kong.

One of the proudest moments in the film is when we meet Zambia’s very own Georgina Kamanga the first female to lead the Intelligence and Investigations Unit at the Department of National Parks in Zambia. She is tasked to work closely with Elisifa Ngowi the man who has been tracking Shetani and believes that members of Shetani’s syndicate may be in Zambia. Without giving anything away all I can say is that she definitely proves herself worth of her position in the Investigations Unit.

This is the kind of film that needs a box of tissues as it stirs up emotions of sadness, anger and frustration that leave you wondering how human beings can be so cruel to this majestic creature!



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