Oscar-Winning Director Wants You to Know Your Ivory Souvenirs Finance Terrorists

Kathryn Bigelow’s short documentary sheds light on who’s backing the world’s fourth-largest illegal business.

(Photo: Courtesy Last Days of Ivory)

Dec 5, 2014· 0 MIN READ
Taylor Hill is an associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.

Every 15 minutes, an elephant is killed for its ivory tusks.

That’s just one of many jarring facts in Kathryn Bigelow’s new short documentary, Last Days, which was released Friday.


Video courtesy Time.com

The mostly animated documentary runs just over three minutes, but it’s jam-packed with shocking statistics and information on the gruesome ivory trade and the growing risk of extinction that elephants face.

Bigelow explained that she didn’t want to make a full-length documentary, because that would take more time—something elephants don’t have much of. With poachers killing 100,000 elephants in just the past three years, the remaining population could be wiped out in little more than a decade.

The film starts with a shot of a pair of ivory chopsticks twisted neatly in a woman’s hair. From there, we’re taken on a journey showing how African terrorist groups such as Al-Shabaab, the Lord’s Resistance Army, Boko Haram, and Janjaweed use the sale of illegal ivory to finance attacks.

“Our desire was to help the viewer focus on the trail of money as well as the trail of blood—a relationship that Interpol and other groups unequivocally confirm,” Bigelow writes on the film’s website. “We felt that by making it an animated piece we would give it a broader audience—besides, the Internet is filled with graphic images of slaughtered elephants, and yet the killing continues.”

To learn more about the project, go to lastdaysofivory.com.