LOS ANGELES – Only days after International Fund for Animal Welfare Honorary Board member Leonardo DiCaprio’s "Before the Flood" aired to television audiences, another one of his documentary projects, "The Ivory Game," is being released by Netflix.
The film depicts the dark side of the ivory supply chain, from undercover raids in East Africa to wholesale ivory markets in Vietnam. It features partners of IFAW’s tenBoma network, which includes the Kenya Wildlife Service, NGOs like Big Life and Tsavo Trust, and Maasai communities that are working so hard to protect the wildlife that is core to their way of life.
Big Life plays a particularly prominent role in the film. In addition to providing anti-poaching outposts and mobile patrol units, Big Life’s involvement in the tenBoma network extends to an unlikely need highlighted by the film: helping local Maasai communities avoid human-wildlife conflict (HWC).
In southern Kenya, raids by elephants and other wildlife cost local Maasai communities millions of dollars in lost human lives, crops and livestock every year. When an elephant destroys crops that represent a farmer’s livelihood, that farmer is much more likely to engage in a retribution killing or to aid a poacher looking for a target.
IFAW, Big Life and other NGOs operating in this critical elephant landscape provide compensation to these local communities, to help offset the costs of HWC and ensure sustainable livelihoods for these communities. In exchange, these local communities help protect critical wildlife corridors by keeping their eyes out for poachers, a key component of the tenBoma program.
“Human lives and property will continue to be lost in the battle to protect elephants in the wild until a comprehensive solution is found that is innovative, highly collaborative, and provides sufficient economic benefits to those who otherwise suffer the losses of living with elephants,” says Richard Bonham, the president of Big Life.
IFAW’s tenBoma field staff are working with Big Life and other NGOs on the ground in Kenya to give them the tools and resources to address both poaching and HWC.