Helping Hand - Elephant Action League - Part Two

Dec 21, 2018

Credit courtesy of Nik Lacchin of luckydesigns.org

This week on Helping Hand, we are offering a first ever two-part special with nonprofit Elephant Action League. HPR All Things Considered Host Dave Lawrence is joined by Executive Director and co-founder Andrea Crosta for a talk about how this unusual collective of primarily ex-intelligence officers with CIA, FBI and similar experience try to disrupt the illegal wildlife trade, and how China has emerged as a rapidly growing extinction-level threat to some of the world's most beloved animals (and many you've never heard of).

Mexican naval personnel searching for poachers decimating the critically endangered totoaba fish due to Chinese demand for their swim bladders. The poachers are also catching the critically endangered vaquita porpoise, on the edge of extinction.
Credit elephantleague.org

Yesterday in part one, we heard how the Elephant Action League ensnare transnational wildlife crime syndicates by setting them up with undercover agents who secretly generate incriminating evidence, then funnel it to law enforcement to help neutralize them. In particular, he detailed Operation: Fake Gold, their undercover mission off the coast of Mexico, where poachers are wiping out the critically endangered totoaba fish due to Chinese demand for that fish's swim bladder, and in the process catching and wiping out another critically endangered creature, the vaquita porpoise.

The remains of a totoaba fish on a beach in Mexico. Consumers exclusively in China are driving the critically endangered fish to extinction. A large animal that Andrea said can sometimes reach three meters in length, like a rhino, the Chinese demand is for just a small part of the fish, in this case, it's swim bladder. The rest of the animal is discarded.
Credit elephantleague.org

Today, in part two, hear about the preeminent role China and their citizens play in today's illegal wildlife trade, which is happening due to their rapidly growing middle class and it's lust for elephant ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scales, tiger bones and body parts from other critically endangered wildlife. We learn about how several other Asia Pacific countries factor into the smuggling from Africa into China, serving as what are called 'transit countries' for these smuggled illegal shipments. Additionally, we hear about the numerous ways animal lovers and people concerned about the toll this consumption is taking can fight back, from reposting their social media material, to helping them translate online marketplaces, to funding missions to put their teams undercover and in the field.

Contact Elephant Action League:

Website: elephantleague.org

Email: info@elephantleague.org

Find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Find all the previous Helping Hand segments.  

Our guest, Elephant Action League Executive Director and co-founder Andrea Crosta, holding a totoaba fish's swim bladder. The critically endangered fish, along with the critically endangered vaquita porpoise, are being wiped out due to demand from Chinese consumers for this small part of a fish that can weigh over 200 pounds.
Credit elephantleague.org