TORONTO (February 25, 2015) – Across Africa, some of the most majestic creatures on earth have roamed the wilderness for millions of years. But now, elephants and rhinos are vanishing at breathtaking speed. This Saturday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, CTV GO, and CTVNews.ca, W5 delivers the Canadian broadcast premiere of international co-production GAMBLING ON EXTINCTION, turning the lens on the war between poachers and wildlife in Africa. A war which the most-endangered species are losing, as demand for illegal wildlife products like ivory and rhino horn drive a thriving, multi-billion dollar underground industry.
This week’s all-new, special one-hour W5 episode airs amidst a blockbuster 49th season, which has attracted an average of close to one million viewers on Saturday nights – a 20% increase over last year in the program’s season-to-date audience, consistently winning Saturday nights in its timeslot among non-sports programing.
As covered in this in-depth report, narrated by W5 Host and Chief Correspondent Lloyd Robertson, with ivory worth $500 per kilogram to the poacher and a single rhino horn commanding as much as $60,000 USD, the staggering profits have attracted organized crime syndicates and terrorist organizations, which have quickly taken over the supply and trade in this illegal, booming enterprise. With control of the money and logistics to move thousands of tonnes of contraband around the globe, organized crime has propelled wildlife trafficking such that it now ranks right behind drugs and guns, worth an estimated $20 billion per year.
W5’s GAMBLING ON EXTINCTION features interviews with wildlife activists, park rangers, and other environmental agencies to reveal that an average of 33,000 elephants are killed each year in Africa for their ivory – one every 15 minutes. And in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, home to the largest rhino population on earth, rhino poaching has exploded from 50 rhinos in 2007, to more than 1,000 per year in 2014. W5 examines the immense popularity and availability of highly sought after ivory and rhino horn in China and Vietnam, alongside the growing trade in illegal wildlife parts, despite severe anti-poaching laws meant to protect wildlife in Africa (including a 1989 ban on all trade in ivory levied by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).
While investigators struggle to stop criminals, conservationists are appealing to consumers to be part of the solution. Celebrities like Chinese actor Jackie Chan are raising their voices in an effort to change the hearts and minds of their countrymen to stop them from buying wildlife products.
A complementary documentary broadcast, also entitled GAMBLING ON EXTINCTION, airs Thursday, Feb. 26 at 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT on Animal Planet.