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When Giants Fall

78 min. Leslie Ray Griffin, dist. by Passion River, www.passionriver.com. 2018. DVD UPC 602573452097. $59.95. SDH subtitles. ENVIRONMENT
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This feature-length documentary exposes an ivory trade in the process of decimating African elephant populations. Around the continent, governments and conservation organizations need rangers to protect the pachyderms. However, huge profits from ivory smuggling remain irresistible to crime syndicates, terrorist groups, corrupt officials, and bandits. In Congo, ivory is said to be traded for guns and ammunition. Population expansion in African hinterlands often conflicts with elephant territory, and villagers won't defend wildlife that tramples and eats their crops. Mining operations disrupt and pollute habitats. As elephant numbers dwindle, poachers are finding fewer mature individuals to kill for their tusks. Note that the film includes extensive footage of snared, poisoned, and wounded elephants, alive and dead. Some hopeful signs are a nursery for orphaned calves, better equipment for rangers, the convening of an antipoaching symposium, and international political pressure against ivory imports.
VERDICT This film is often difficult to watch. Though elephants have survived for two million years, human ambition for unlimited wealth and living space seem to be dooming these intelligent social behemoths. Environmentalists of all stripes will be intrigued.

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