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Special Screening of 'Battle for the Elephants' Documentary to Take Place at UVM Oct. 17

Panel discussion with film's director to follow

(Photo: Charles Foley/WCS)

The University of Vermont's Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources in conjunction with the Wildlife Conservation Society is hosting "Battle for the Elephants: A Special Screening and Solutions Panel Discussion" on Thursday, Oct. 17 at 4 p.m. Doors open at 3:30 p.m in Ira Allen Chapel. The event is free and open to the public.

The event will feature a screening of Battle for the Elephants, a one-hour National Geographic documentary, followed by a panel discussion on dynamic solutions to the “blood ivory” crisis. The film recently was a winner at the 2013 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. Panelists include John Heminway, writer, producer, and director of Battle for the Elephants; Joshua Ginsberg, senior vice president, Global Conservation Program, Wildlife Conservation Society; James Deutsch, executive director, Africa Program, Wildlife Conservation Society; and Laurel Neme, Vermonter and author of Animal Investigators, contributor to National Geographic, and fellow at UVM's Institute for Environmental Diplomacy and Security.

Elephant poaching in Africa is at a record high, decimating the species. The number of elephants alive today is the smallest number ever recorded. An elephant is killed every 15 minutes for its tusks, with an estimated 36,000 being slaughtered each year. If the killing continues at the current level, elephants will be extinct in 10 years.

Wildlife trafficking is now the third largest illegal trade in the world, after drugs and guns. Given the tremendous ecological loss at stake, the brutality of the poaching, and the deeply rooted global security implications, this event is certain to shine a spotlight on the crisis and solutions. The event also aims to show how millions of people's livelihoods are at risk given the vital importance of tourism in many African countries and communities.

This ecological and economic crisis is also increasingly connected to global security crises through links between the ivory trade and militia/terrorist groups. Evidence shows that illicit proceeds from ivory smuggling are financing some of the world’s worst militia and terrorist groups, from Al Shabaab to the Lord’s Resistance Army’s Joseph Kony -- making the link between security and wildlife trafficking irrefutable. Peter Seligmann, the CEO of Conservation International, told Time magazine in September: “Poaching has become an enormous problem and one of the most profitable criminal activities there is. It’s destabilizing to nations, it’s a threat to security forces, and it’s a serious loss for local economies that depend on wildlife.”