Ivory poaching. The broad strokes of this tragedy are well known: in the last three years, upwards of 100,000 African elephants have been slaughtered for their tusks. If this death rate continues, the entire species will be extinct within the next two decades.
But the carnage doesn’t end with the elephants. In a worldwide exclusive, Explorer deploys state-of-the-art new technology to reveal that proceeds from the ivory trade aren’t just lining the pockets of poachers and dealers—they’re fueling some of the most dangerous terrorist organizations on Earth.
At the center of the hour is investigative journalist Bryan Christy. Named “Explorer of the Year” by the National Geographic Society in 2014, Christy has spent the past eleven years uncovering wildlife trafficking.
Last year, he received funding from the Society to embark on a groundbreaking and dangerous new mission: to enlist a team of engineers and one of the world’s top taxidermists, conceal a sophisticated GPS tracker inside an incredibly realistic faux ivory tusk, drop the tusk off into the heart of ivory poaching country, and monitor its movements.
Watch a preview from the show–Bryan enlists the help of renowned taxidermist George Dante to create a GPS-infused tusk that’s so convincing it will fool ivory traders:
The results lead Bryan into the heart of radical militant organizations that are terrorizing and destabilizing Africa, and threatening Americans at home and abroad.
Over the course of the episode, Bryan hunts down poachers with an elite Rangers unit in Garamba National Park; is arrested and thrown in jail after being mistaken for an ivory trafficker; rides along on a seizure in Togo of thousands of elephant tusks; and meets former guerilla leaders who have witnessed levels of human atrocity reminiscent of the darkest days of the Khmer Rouge.
It’s a riveting journey—an unprecedented demonstration that the treasure stolen from the bodies of one of Earth’s most magnificent animals is funding atrocities against the people of Africa, and the spread of worldwide terror.