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Reality TV tries to stop poaching of rhinos and elephants

Two nonfiction programs, a documentary and a three-part series, focus on saving endangered animals in Africa: Animal Planet’s Battleground: Rhino Wars and PBS’ broadcast of the National Geographic special Battle for the Elephants.

Tonight’s one-hour special is based on an article in National Geographic magazine, “Blood Ivory” by Bryan Christy, which looks at how religiosity fuels the consumption of ivory–especially in China–that may kill off African elephants within five years. In the film, Christy calls China “the world’s villain when it comes to the illegal ivory trade.” A web series goes behind the scenes of the production of the documentary, which is previewed here:

Next week, Animal Planet debuts its three-part series Battleground: Rhino Wars on March 7. It follows four current and former members of the U.S. military who were recruited to go to South Africa to stop Rhino poaching for about six weeks. About 700 rhinoceroses are killed each year for their horns, which are valued around the world. I talked with two of them and the show’s producers earlier this year, and they told me that their presence alone was enough to deter some poachers in certain locations, even though they tried to go in with a minimal production crew. Here’s a preview of the mini-series:

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.


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