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":

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I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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What someone wears, regardless of gender, is a personal choice. Sadly, many folks like Maryann White, mother of four sons, think women's attire — particularly women's leggings are a threat to men.

While sitting in mass at the University of Notre Dame, White was aghast by the spandex attire the young women in front of her were sporting.

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Not only did the good guys show up for the thread, but their stories show how men can interrupt situations when they see women being mistreated and help put a stop to it.

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