2016 Photo Contest, Nature, 2nd prize

Ivory Wars


Brent Stirton

National Geographic

17 November, 2014

Michael Oryem (29) poached elephant with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), operating mainly in the Garamba National Park in DRC. He says he was asked by LRA leader Joseph Kony to take ivory to him in Darfur, Sudan, and that the LRA trades the ivory to the Sudanese Army. Oryem defected from the LRA and helped take Ugandan forces through the border into the Central African Republic to retrieve a stash of ivory he had previously hidden. He is carrying two of the six tusks he hid.

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
35.0 mm

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