People often speak of the war on drugs and we now hear talk of a war on wildlife crime. The war against narcotic trafficking is bound to be a long one, with many battles along the way. Some species, like the tiger, is so close to extinction that we must, very soon, start winning battles against the people who are robbing nations of their natural resources or those magnificent creatures will be gone forever. After all, if we eventually win the war but lose tigers along the way, we will have achieved a very hollow victory.
Although I am formally retired, I still try to assist in my role as an anti-smuggling, fraud and organized crime consultant. I was more than happy to collaborate with the makers of GAMBLING ON EXTINCTION because I hope this documentary will help raise the profile of wildlife crime. It would be great if every Customs and Police Commissioner made time to watch the film.
For the worst possible reasons, elephants and rhinoceroses are front page news today. They have become poster children for the worst excesses of organized wildlife crime. The present poaching crisis is the outcome of some 40 years of history, some of it acted out in nature and some, including my own work over the past twenty-five years, at international meetings where the rules that may decide the fate of both rhinos and elephants are fought over, seemingly endlessly.
Those of us who are struggling to save these embattled giants, in the field or in the meeting room, are joined in a battle against greed, poverty, corruption and war. We are fighting for living elephants, not carvings or jewelry (however beautiful), and living rhinoceroses, not medicines or cures (however fraudulent).
We are fighting, too, for human lives. Over the past ten years more than 700 rangers have been killed by poachers in Africa and Asia.
As long as organized criminal gangs and vicious, power-hungry militias are able to feed off the profits of the traffic in elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn, people, as well as animals, will continue to be the victims of this evil trade.
We need to understand the true costs of the poaching crisis if we are to do something effective about it. It is my hope that GAMBLING ON EXTINCTION will help to carry that message, and to give this issue the global attention it needs and deserves.
The poaching crisis that funds terrorism and civil wars will only end if the demand for endangered wildlife products is reduced. We must increase awareness of the poaching crisis in consuming countries, including China and Vietnam, and encourage government action to end legal trade and improve the enforcement of current bans. Our surveys have found a significant lack of awareness in China regarding poaching and a strong willingness to ban endangered wildlife sales once the facts are shared. When the buying stops, the killing can too.
The Environmental Investigation Agency, was incredibly helpful in the making and promotion of our film. President and Cofounder of EIA, Allan Thornton, appeared in the film and the organization provided critical research resources. In March 2015, the film premiered at the DC Environmental Film Festival. EIA Senior Policy Advisor Lisa Handy participated in a moderated panel discussion with Q&A from the audience.
Gambling on Extinction is a powerful documentary that explores the complexities of the illegal trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn, from the African sources to Asian markets.
An investigative documentary, Gambling on Extinction shines a light on this devastating transnational crime, covering supply and demand, the involvement of criminal syndicates, and links to terrorism.
From the beginning, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has been a critical partner in the making of this film. We’re grateful for their ongoing support.
This important film sheds a light on a cruel business that usually operates in the dark. It is shocking and revealing and leaves you with no doubt that urgent and extremely strong measures need to be taken globally if we want this massacre to end.
As someone in the film says: “It is a war and we are losing it!”
Wildlife continues to need our help.
Statements of Support
Every 15 minutes an elephant is killed for their ivory. These animals can disappear from the wild in our lifetime because we humans have become greedy and have taken consumerism to a whole new level. While I made a living as the host of a TV show that was all about buying things, I also worked hard at being a good consumer. I convinced producers at The Price is Right to stop giving fur coats away, and we stopped providing leather products and fishing equipment, too. As consumers, we can all walk the walk. Please be a responsible consumer, and say no to ivory and other animal products. I am honored to support GAMBLING ON EXTINCTION, an investigative film documenting this horrific wildlife trade and doing their part to walk the walk.Bob Barker TV Personality, Animal Rights Activist
The number of elephants poached in the last year is one elephant being killed every 15 minutes.
That is shocking and for what? Another trinket, another carving?
Everyone should dispel the myths that ivory jewelry and carvings are made from tusks that have fallen off the elephant or from elephants that have died of natural causes. This is simply not true.
Elephants are being hunted and killed for their tusks.
The only way to stop the slaughter is to cut the demand. We are all consumers so we can all make a difference.
So help spread the message: saying NO to ivory will save the elephants.
JACKIE CHANJackie Chan Actor, Humanitarian
The World Wildlife War is acknowledged by few and fought by fewer. While money pours into humanitarian causes, conservationists struggle to preserve wildlife. I call it a Wildlife War because across the world, criminal syndicates using military precision, poach with swift, calculated ferocity. Using automatic weapons and night vision equipment, well-trained units strike animals while they fulfill the most primary desire of any creature – to live. As game rangers track fading footprints from the scene of a crime, the lives they bravely try to defend with their own are already being traded on the other side of the world. Rhinos, elephants, and tigers are iconic species that the International Anti-Poaching Foundation fights to protect. They are high-target species whose very struggle for survival represents that of Mother Nature herself – these are the animals that GAMBLING ON EXTINCTION will be shining the spotlight on. We need your help to defend the defenseless.Damien Mander Founder & CEO, International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF)
When my friends Bill Spahic and Anne Pick approached me for support of their new film project GAMBLING ON EXTINCTION I looked up at the unicorn and thought "What if the elephant, rhino and tiger became extinct from the wild because of ever increasing poaching?" Would someone in the future be reduced to having a small statue/figurine of those majestic creatures in their study as a remembrance of creatures lost forever. What a sad day that would be! So I offer my full support for the GAMBLING ON EXTINCTION film trying to do its part to keep those incredible creatures alive and with us. I urge all my friends and colleagues to do what ever they can to keep those creatures from becoming mythical like my unicorn.Gordon Pinsent Actor
A world without elephants is empty. All animals living in this earth are important because they were created. Many species are already gone and no longer exist on this earth. Elephants will be the same if we don't do anything to protect them. In the world, there are only a few groups of people involved in the ivory trade, but we have so many people around the world with a good heart who are concerned with the elephants and their living. There are no laws and some of us cannot do anything to help animals, but everyone can spread the word and educate other people. I believe the power of education will make the big change.Sangduen Chailert (Lek) Elephant Nature Park
If we don’t buy, they won’t die! For many years IFAW has been campaigning against illegal wildlife trade and especially the trade in ivory. We train rangers on the ground, we inform Chinese consumers about the dark side of their trinkets, we investigate the online-trade and we know we need a massive public outcry to convince politicians to take action! Therefore we were more than happy when Jakob approached us with his film project and continue to support him with our knowledge, experts and contacts. It will be an important film about a tragic topic and we know it is in very good hands with Jakob and his partners. We really want to see this film and hope, the filmmakers will get every support they need to make it!Dörte von der Reith International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
The extinction of elephants, tigers and rhinos would be a clear harbinger of our own self-extinction. When the last of these animals is dead there will be a shift, not only in the ecological balance of the planet, but in our own collective consciousness. We will have proven to ourselves that we are fundamentally incapable of curbing our destructive capacity. Gambling on their extinction is a safe bet placed on our own demise.Vincenzo Natali Director/Producer, "Cube", "Cypher", "Splice"
Our role at Planet in Focus is to support environmental filmmakers in their journey to make films that draw attention to critical events and issues that impact our world. We understand that action is needed not by one but many in order to change our global behavior and therefore positively impact the world.
Film is the medium that has potential to reaches millions of people and change hearts and minds. This can spur changes in behavior and in regard to your film, prevent the extinction of the animals of our world.
We are happy to follow your journey in making this film and the issues that you are championing.
Environmental filmmakers are Eco-Heros in our regard, as you stand strong and speak truth in the face adversity and resistance. Planet in Focus offers its support in the making of GAMBLING ON EXTINCTION.Dawn Kuisma Executive Director, Planet in Focus
One of my dreams is that one day I will be able to take my kids to Africa to see elephants and rhinos, chimpanzees and cheetahs in the wild - all those fantastic creatures they have only seen in zoos so far. But what can I tell them if these animals will be gone by then? How can I explain to my kids that they are gone because they were killed out of greed and thoughtlessness? We must do everything we can to stop this slaughter right now.Susanne Mertens Commissioning Editor, ZDF/Arte
As the only animal entertainment brand that captures the drama and compelling characters of the animal kingdom, Animal Planet believes strongly in spotlighting the plight of endangered species. Canadian audiences from coast-to-coast-to-coast will surely be riveted by the elephant poaching trade depicted in Jakob Kneser's "Gambling on Extinction" and we are grateful it has found a home with us at Animal Planet Canada.Stan Lipsey Bell Media’s Animal Planet Canada
As Canada's most-watched and the longest-running current affairs program in North America, W5 has a 48-year history of covering important stories. We believe "Gambling on Extinction" investigates a troubling underground world that threatens some of the world's most vulnerable species.Anton Koschany Executive Producer, CTV W5
The extinction of a species is akin to killing a part of ourselves. A short term gain for a few people while being an incredible irreversible long term loss for mankind.Mícheál Ó Meallaigh Commissioning Director (TG4)