This week we’re continuing our recurring series within Helping Hand about one of the most vulnerable and victimized animals on Earth due to consumers in our Asia Pacific neighborhood: the rhinoceros. HPR All Things Considered Host Dave Lawrence shares the approach of the innovative nonprofit, the Elephant Action League, and speaks with their Executive Director Andrea Crosta about their new report based on groundbreaking undercover work, Grinding Rhino: an undercover investigation on Rhino Horn Trafficking in China and Vietnam.
The Elephant Action League is a pioneering nonprofit devoted to the investigation of wildlife crime. When people donate to them, they use the funds to launch massive undercover investigations to expose the consumers, smugglers and corrupt government officials driving the trade. The EAL locates honest law enforcement personnel in these countries and shares with them the gathered evidence to put these criminals in jail.
In this new undercover report, the Elephant Action League identify dozens of criminals that are critical to the smuggling and sale of rhino horn, which is driving the worldwide extinction crisis of wild rhinos due to a perfect storm of factors, from increasing middle classes in Vietnam and China, to the impact of the internet on sales and distribution, to a new mentality of banking on extinction to drive up the value of the rhino’s horns. The Asia Pacific criminal syndicates have no regard for the painful killings their consumption causes, or threat of extinction it’s leading to. It influenced the Elephant Action League to expose the critical chain of custody that demonstrates conclusively the blame Vietnamese and Chinese consumers bear as culprits responsible for the violence and death of innocent, defenseless animals. Their goal is to provide law enforcement with actionable intelligence that can put these people behind bars.
Through contributions by those concerned with the well-being and survival of these animals, the nonprofit Elephant Action League conducts extensive undercover missions that gather evidence that can be used by prosecutors. They create both public reports documenting the investigations, and private un-redacted intel briefs custom made for law enforcement, that are filled with secretly recorded and filmed conversations, exchanges and meetings. The EAL uses this approach on behalf of elephants, rhinos, pangolins, lions, tigers and other critically endangered and imperiled animals, all facing an extinction threat due to Asia Pacific consumers either buying the wildlife parts out of a false belief they have a medicinal property, as a status symbol, or as an investment, banking on the future extinction of the species increasing the value of their stolen parts. There is no evidence rhino horn, elephant ivory or pangolin meat or scales have any properties falsely attributed to it by practitioners of tradition Chinese medicine.
Andrea Crosta also explains how public pressure plays a crucial role in forcing countries like China, whose citizens bear the most blame for the killings, to enforce existing wildlife laws and adopt new measures, like the ban on elephant ivory being instituted now. The EAL make clear that it was worldwide public pressure on China that achieved the ivory ban, showing how much power anyone concerned has in standing up for these vulnerable creatures. Andrea Crosta was also an important figure in The Ivory Game film.
Helping Hand is a weekly feature airing Fridays during afternoon drive on All Things Considered, and then archived online here. Helping Hand puts the spotlight on an organization, topic or event that offers assistance to the disabled and others among the most vulnerable.
Download or read the complete report from the Elephant Action League at their site or here:
Contact the Elephant Action League: