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To Save an elephant by Dave Currey and Allan Thornton

Hardback published by Doubleday in 1991

To Save an Elephant by Dave Currey and Allan Thornton

History has repeated itself with elephant populations diving as poached ivory is consumed mainly in the Far East and particularly in China. The international ban agreed in 1989 has been deliberately challenged with so-called "legal" ivory sales to Japan and China. The last sale in 2008, vehemently opposed by many African countries and NGOs including the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), was agreed by the convention CITES and some wildlife groups such as TRAFFIC and WWF. This was consistent with WWF's opposition to the ban from the start, revealed in this book. As predicted, the "legal" ivory has provided the cover for illegal ivory to be sold in huge quantities ever since. The African elephant is once again faced with extinction across most of its range.


Sadly this is an extremely relevant story, even today, with many of the same protagonists. Co-authored by Dave with fellow EIA director Allan Thornton and published by Doubleday in 1991.


In 1979 1.5 million elephants roamed the plains and forests of Africa. Ten years later, a million of these majestic creatures had been ruthlessly slaughtered - a massacre of over 2,000 elephants a week. Total extinction of the species seemed inevitable.


This is the true story of how the billion dollar illegal ivory trade, responsible for over 90 per cent of the elephant deaths, was infiltrated and exposed by a small band of dedicated wildlife investigators. A chance stumbling upon the story of a smuggling ship running poached ivory up the coast of East Africa to the Middle East, led Dave Currey and Allan Thornton, co-directors of the tiny and underfunded Environmental Investigation Agency, to delve into the sinister and dangerous underworld of ivory smuggling syndicates. Appalled by what they found, and by the fact that nobody in the world, not even the large wildlife conservation groups, seemed to be taking effective steps to expose the illegal poaching, they started an investigation which was to last two years and was to take them and a handful of colleagues to four continents and back.


A real-life Indiana Jones adventure, complete with sinister "Mr Big" ivory traders from Hong Kong, ruthless and murderous big game poachers, South African spies, and double-dealing officials, this book tells how the 'eco-detectives' painstakingly pieced together an explosive exposé that shocked the world into banning the ivory trade altogether in October 1989.


Published as a hardback by Doubleday in 1991 and as a paperback by Bantam in 1992.


Translated into other languages including German, Japanese and Russian.


Out of print but readily available as a second-hand book on the internet.

Paperback published by Bantam in 1992

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