This feature story about the illegal ivory trade — with a special focus on China — was recently posted at The Atlantic:
This cover story on the same subject — but which focuses on the Philippines (not China) and the use of ivory by religious communities (i.e., Buddhists and Catholics) — was published by National Geographic in October 2012:
Length of The Atlantic‘s story, in words: 12,700+
Number of times the “Philippines” is mentioned: 3
Length of the National Geographic story, in words: 7,500+
Number of times the “Philippines” is mentioned: 18
What The Atlantic says about the Philippines (all three mentions):
- … The rest goes to Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, and other Asian friends of the United States, in routine disregard of the ivory ban that the United States led a generation ago.
- … The prospect of sanctions came up the last time around, when, as the Bangkok Post recounts, the conference identified three African nations, along with transit countries Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, and top markets China and Thailand – as making insufficient efforts to curb the trade.
- … They need to trust us on this one, as do Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines and every other friendly or dependent government in the Asia-Pacific region, and more “promising steps” such as Secretary Clinton noted last November aren’t going to cut it.
What National Geographic says about the Philippines (only 4 of 18 mentions):
- “The Philippines is a favorite destination of these smuggled elephant tusks, maybe because Filipino Catholics are fond of images of saints that are made of ivory.”
- When I ask how new ivory gets to the Philippines, he tells me that Muslims from the southern island of Mindanao smuggle it in.
- During my five trips to the Philippines I visited every one of the ivory shops Garcia recommended to me and more, inquiring about buying ivory. More than once I was asked if I was a priest.
- Corruption is so bad in the Philippines that in 2006 the wildlife department sued senior customs officers for “losing” several tons of seized ivory.
What a political cartoonist in the Philippines says about Bryan Christy, who wrote the National Geographic cover story:
Number of times National Geographic mentions “Buddhist”: 10
Number of times The Atlantic mentions “Buddhist”: 0
Number of times National Geographic mentions “Catholic”: 8
Number of times The Atlantic mentions “Catholic”: 0
Number of times I’ve asked Bryan Christy for an on-the-record Q&A so he can describe in detail his fieldwork for this story: 6
Number of times Bryan Christy has responded or acknowledged my requests: 0
What might explain National Geographic‘s willingness to punch well below its weight class, and beat up the Philippines instead of China?