Date: Sunday, March 13, 2016 – 3:00 pm
Event: 11th Annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival
Venue: Vancouver International Film Festival’s Vancity Theatre
Run Time: 1:18:00
Director/Producer: Leslie Griffith
Studio: Matriarch Films
Cast: Jane Goodall, Daphne Sheldrick, Iain & Saba Douglas-Hamilton
Description: A penetrating look at endangered African elephants, the criminals who hunt them, and the dedicated rangers using military technology to try and save them. Caught between bloody civil wars and a lust for money, Africa’s elephants struggle to survive a seemingly insatiable worldwide demand for their ivory.
Official Selection: Ashland Independent Film Festival, Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, Sedona International Film Festival, Awareness Festival
Winner: Best Documentary – Rainier Independent Film Festival
Best Documentary – Vancouver International Women in Film Festival
A discussion panel followed the film, moderated by Christina Toms, Director of WIFTV’s board and Director of Communications for Elephanatics. Participants were:
Leslie Griffith – Director, “When Giants Fall”
Dr. Jake Wall – Chief Geospatial Scientist, Save The Elephants
Ernie Cooper – Environmental Consultant/SFU Professor
Ernie Cooper stated that when African elephants were put on Appendix 1 by CITES in the late 80’s, commercial trade in ivory was prohibited worldwide. After that world trade plummeted. But then trade went back up to similar levels, following CITES’ approval of one-off sales.
Ernie said that interestingly, Canada’s trade has not increased substantially since the late 80’s. With Canada’s population being roughly 10% of USA’s, one would expect illegal ivory trade in Canada to also be 10% of trade in the USA. He didn’t know why, but Canada’s trade is significantly lower than 10%.
When questions were invited from the audience, Brian Kunimoto (a recent Elephanatics’ volunteer) was upset and incredulous about the recent Able Auction’s sale of hunting trophies and ivory. He thought that all ivory should be shredded. Ernie commented that trophy hunting was not a significant cause of elephant population decline. Some audience members were shocked by this and when Leslie said that she disagreed with Ernie, the crowd cheered enthusiastically.
Leslie Griffith explained what inspired her to make the film. Being a witness at the Ringling Brothers Circus trials was shocking and life-changing for her. She realized her Christian upbringing that taught man had dominion over the animals, was the same view as the Ringling Bros staff, and that this resulted in untold suffering of their elephants. This led her to research the African elephant crisis and eventually to “When Giants Fall”.
Jake Wall answered questions about the elephant GPS tracking collars and subsequent data collection of their movements. He explained how “Mountain Bull” was a real elephant “character” who would consistently march through fences and refuse to use the underpass route, but when he eventually accepted it, hundreds of elephants followed him through, safely making it to the other side. He also shared how new mines dramatically effect elephants and other wildlife due to the new roads that are made in previously wilderness territory to service the mine sites.
Another question from the audience was: What education is happening in top ivory consumption countries such as the US and China to counteract the high consumption?
An audience member commented how it would be good if the world’s largest auction houses, Sotheby’s and Christie’s, made a joint public statement that they would not sell ivory. This would have a positive ripple effect on many other auction companies that do market ivory, such as Able Auctions.
Leslie mentioned how important it was that the audience bring their friends and family members to the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos in Vancouver this year. Christina confirmed the date as September 24 and that the venue was currently undecided but it would be downtown. Elephanatics was mentioned and the audience was given the website address and Facebook page so they could check for event confirmations.
By: Leanne Fogarty – Director of Education, Elephanatics BC