2016 Photo Contest, Nature, 2nd prize

Ivory Wars


Brent Stirton

National Geographic

07 January, 2015

Rangers exhibit their riding skills as they return to base at Zakouma National Park, Chad, after weeks on elephant patrol. The park lost nearly three quarters of its elephants in the decade up to 2011, due to raids by Janjaweed rebels and poachers from Sudan. Since then—with the park under new management—Zakouma rangers, helped by intelligence from nomad groups, have eliminated poaching almost completely.

The trade in poached ivory is financing rebel armed militia across Africa, such as the Lord’s Resistance Army, Seleka rebels of the Central African Republic (CAR), the Janjaweed of Sudan, and the FDLR in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Various national armies actively trade with these groups, and centuries-old Sudanese poaching cartels participate in sending large bands of armed men across borders to kill elephants. Patrols of dedicated rangers around the continent are on the frontline of attempts to thwart the trade.

About the photographer

Brent Stirton

Brent Stirton is a special correspondent for Getty Images, and a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine as well as other international titles.  He speci...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
Focal length
47.0 mm

This image is collected in