See what happened when a journalist planted GPS tracking devices in an illegal ivory shipment.

The African elephant. Awesome animal. But their future is looking pretty iffy.

Central Africa, for example, saw its elephant population drop by 64% in just 10 years. And at the current rate, experts say the giants could be extinct in the wild in a few decades, which would be terrible because, well, look at 'em. They're amazing.


Photo by miquitos/Flickr.

National Geographic's Bryan Christy wanted an inside look into why so many elephants are dying: the illegal ivory trade.

But he couldn't just waltz into a black market and be all, "Hey, dudes! Where's this stuff going?" He had to be sneaky about it. So he devised a plan fit for a spy agency.

Image via ABC News/YouTube.

Christy's plan was to embed fake tusks with GPS tracking devices in a black market in the Central African Republic.

First, he needed someone who could create counterfeit tusks so convincing that even an ivory trader would have a hard time telling the difference.

Enter George Dante, the "Michelangelo of taxidermy" according to Christy. He lived up to the flattery, producing copies that looked, felt, and even sounded like the real thing.

Dante's tusks were put to their first test at an airport in Tanzania. They passed with flying colors when Christy was detained on suspicion of ivory smuggling. But the authorities were cool about it when he let them in on the scheme.

As if elephant poaching weren't bad enough, tracking the tusks revealed some important but horrifying new layers.

Christy expected the tusks to track east toward China, the world's top buyer of illegal ivory and where, writes Christy, "a pair of ivory chopsticks can bring more than a thousand dollars, and carved tusks sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Instead, he watched the signals travel north into the terrorist-controlled regions of Sudan.

You can follow and learn more about the route on National Geographic's website.

"[I]n central Africa, as I learned firsthand, something more sinister is driving the killing: Militias and terrorist groups funded in part by ivory are poaching elephants, often outside their home countries, and even hiding inside national parks. They're looting communities, enslaving people, and killing park rangers who get in their way." — Bryan Christy, National Geographic

And the ivory trade doesn't just mean more elephant carcasses. It also funds violence led by terrorist warlords.

Warlords like Joseph Kony, leader of the Uganda-born Lord's Resistance Army. Remember that guy? He does some terrifying sh*t. And he's not the only bad actor who benefits from illegal ivory.

Photo by Stuart Price/AFP/Getty Images.

We knew saving the elephants was important before, but this investigation shows us it's not just about the elephants.

Illegal ivory is placing innocent human lives at the mercy of f&#%ing terrorists, y'all!

If saving these spectacular creatures wasn't reason enough to get involved...

Image via iStock.

...then I hope that is.

Check out this article by National Geographic's Costas Christ for practical ways you can support the fight to end ivory poaching.

Watch a "Nightline" segment about Christy's reporting in the National Geographic documentary "Explorer: Warlords of Ivory":

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."