The Ivory Game – A Netflix Documentary



The Ivory Gametelluride-wildleaks, premiered at the Telluride and Toronto International Film Festivals 2016, features the co-founder of Earth League International – ELI (formerly Elephant Action League) and the whistleblowing initiative WildLeaks, Mr. Andrea Crosta, among other protagonists, as it reveals the dark world of the complex international ivory supply chain.
The Ivory Game is a Netflix Documentary produced by Terra Mater Factual Studios and Vulcan Productions, in collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio.
ELI published its powerful “Blending Ivory: Old Loopholes, New Hopes” investigative report in January 2016. Undercover footage from this 2015 investigation exposed the areas where illegal ivory opportunistically enters the legal ivory market, and where China’s legal trade system and legal businesses are exploited to launder illicit ivory onto the legal market. It is this footage that is presented in The Ivory Game film narrative.
Award-winning director Richard Ladkani and Academy Award® nominated director Kief Davidson filmed undercover for 16 months infiltrating and documenting the deep-rooted corruption at the heart of the global ivory trafficking crisis.
In China, there is a legal market for ivory within the limits of five tons per year, a policy that provides a door for illicit ivory to enter the legal market. On the black market, hundreds of tons of ivory flow through China annually. Legitimate businesses and business people participate in and facilitate the laundering of illicit ivory through the legal Chinese ivory market by importing ‘new’ ivory as pre-ban, antique, and trophy hunting ivory; manipulating the ivory registration system; and selling the existing huge illegal raw ivory stocks, totaling more than 1,000 tons, according to WildLeaks’ sources, currently in the hands of a few Chinese traders.

Directors Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson

This is but one aspect of the ivory supply chain. The Ivory Game filmmakers interweave the stories of multiple advocates fighting against both supply and demand. As suspenseful as any thriller, the film follows the Tanzanian task force leader, Elisifa Ngowi, hunting down the crime lord Shetani, AKA ‘the Devil’: the Chinese activist, Hongxiang Huang, undertaking covert missions to document illegal trade; Mr. Crosta, facilitating anonymous tips from whistle-blowers and investigating traffickers, and the work of the Wildlife Justice Commission.
The lucrative ivory trade supports organized crime, facilitates corruption, and flows back to Africa where it enriches warlords and tempts impoverished soldiers into poaching. It has caused rampant poaching of elephants, leading to possible extinction with our lifetimes. The Ivory Game chronicles the incredibly vital battle to save the world’s elephants. The courage of the film’s elephant advocates makes for a pulse-racing adventure with real-life urgency.
Through this film, viewers will have a front row seat to the fight to bring down poachers, traffickers and corrupt government officials. Mr. Crosta hopes that viewers will “understand the magnitude and complexity of international ivory trafficking, and the undeniable role that China has in both the extinction and the survival of the elephants. They have the means to stop the slaughtering of elephants now, but only if they choose to act.”
The Ivory Game was shortlisted in the best feature doc category for the Oscars 2017, and won the Wildscreen Golden Panda Award and the Beijing International Film Festival 2017 in the Best International Feature Doc category.
Download “Blending Ivory: Old Loopholes, New Hopes” at
Netflix released The Ivory Game worldwide on November 4, 2016

Toronto Film Festival) from left: Richard Ladkani (Director), Kief Davidson (Director), Leonardo DiCaprio, Ted Sarandos (Netflix Chief Content Officer). © Netflix

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WildLeaks is a not-for-profit collaborative project created, funded and managed by the Earth League International.

The Mission of WildLeaks is to receive and evaluate anonymous information and tips regarding wildlife crime, including corruption, and transform them into concrete actions.

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