Chasing Ivory Poachers, Smugglers in West Africa

Part 1: In a global undercover investigation, "Nightline's" Bill Weir tracks the illegal ivory trade
3:00 | 08/05/13

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Transcript for Chasing Ivory Poachers, Smugglers in West Africa
If the wild African elephant has ever driven to extinction. Metal certainly have plenty of souvenirs of the slaughter. You see to many an ivory chess set her hand carved letter opener. Seems too trivial to kill for especially -- creature such majesty and intelligence as the elephant. But for so many others ivory is a good luck status symbol worth striving for with the demands so high. Up to 30000 elephants are -- each year just for their costs so tonight a trip into the black market. Four white gold it's it's known from New York City. China. Africa and then back to the states a journey where corruption reigns. A few wildlife crime fighters try to change human nature before it's too late. -- You can buy anything. New York City and less expensive than that things but can you by the hand -- souvenir they slaughtered elephant. To this beloved creature that tusk as the key to survival in the wild used to -- flights. But they are worthless against a man with a gun. And then sell that -- -- on the black market for thirteen hundred bucks. Elephants began disappearing in the eighties all trade of new ivory was banned worldwide punish. -- OK so this New York dealer tells me his ivory is old enough to sell legally. Here's the -- New demand is so much bigger than old supply. These animals are now disappearing from the African wars -- faster than ever -- -- to understand these -- laws of supply and demand we set out on a global investigation. From the gleaming ivory markets China. To a twelve million dollar pilot tusks to trinkets in the Denver. To the -- shops of West Africa it's. We're -- hidden camera is the only way to capture the truth. They might feel -- love Manny. Until it is earnings above -- -- Since there are organized -- crime syndicates now working across Africa where corruption is rampant. Please don't care. Many think the elephant is doomed but not if this guy has anything to say about it fighting corruption can be a person that we do. No matter what it takes us is going to be -- going to be a war. That's what we need to do. His name has -- -- -- and he is a self made wildlife crime and we started -- on these with a team of amateur detectives uses hidden cameras and microphones to do. Cases against poachers and smugglers across Africa. Dead inside his house and final document and what she's gathered enough evidence that bags community -- Jolson and kinda played -- until now you sense nothing basic foods and -- local police into enforcing laws that are never enforced it does not bodyguards behind bars. There's nothing in the past decade his group -- long ago. Post 900 arrests people who trade in everything from birds. -- big cats. But their top rarity these days is the elephant. And those who profit from their destruction a billion dollar food chain that begins -- the forced. -- men like this. Pictures of poachers at work are extremely rare but Nightline acquired this footage of a man who claims 499. Elephant kills. And a warning here this 500. Is hard to watch. He doesn't have enough bullets to put the mighty beast -- quickly so it suffers for hours. Before he can carve off just enough meat for the high -- And too modest tusks worth tens of thousands of dollars. There were 30000. Jewels like that just last year. And you can see the effects on safari. Were dwindling herds are given their distance because it traumatized elephant never forgets. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- And this result -- understandably skittish around human beings. But more tangible proof for the slaughter was recently discovered hidden in a shipping container of mahogany wood and route to -- And seized in Malaysia -- six tons of -- the twelve million dollar remains of over 700. Elephants. And what do you learn that container were shipped from West Africa the little -- nation of Togo. -- fear knew he had to come here in the capital -- way. Start shaking hands at a time that happens -- so this is Julian. -- fears south African operative on the ground here in Togo and posing as a buyer is -- -- tantalizing leads towards a man everyone calls the boss. Valerie asked a -- five. Cities conscious of the legal implications of what he's doing will join this twisting turning hunt for the boss but since old fears to exposed to go undercover. Julian will be my -- -- -- goes black market. We want to see just how much ivory and American -- -- in an afternoon. So we started a small workshop plea back -- hand sought chunks of tossed. Fashion in the treatment yeah. Two impressively ornate good -- ordered a big piece. For 8000 books -- -- claims he can track down a full fresh to us and custom carve it in one week flat. When I asked this man about smuggling it's a little -- But he had a couple others mentioned a man with real connection civility. -- -- one person who -- A man named and real and look -- the boss. Today he's almost. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- And the shelves of the shop -- the legend isn't she. -- -- estimates there is 500 pounds of ivory here around thirty elephants were in open display. Which means he probably has connections and could -- -- lead to solving the case -- that -- Malaysian seizure. Information any holes he's enormous. The only known jumped inside his and I'm sure we could start Perez can sell the bigger guys -- White Sox front. -- We're getting him to admit to smuggling. Could be -- delicate dance please these pieces Julian begins by assessing the range of prices something like would be. 6000 dollars for the paper and then eases into the topic. Exporting. -- That's woman who can suddenly wants and -- -- So -- -- And on -- -- he somebody that democracy all about money. Until understanding. Above walker led the -- countries -- -- -- to reform. Now play an accident any penny -- Lansing couple -- floating -- decades gambling. With a stunning admission -- adjusted. Faculty and the revealing visit any other Harvard and -- fear has enough evidence but he still has to convince local cops raid both jobs simultaneously. Tension builds on the morning of the raid. But as we arrive before the bus the shop. The suspiciously close. Targets. Nowhere to be found -- voted -- very -- The problem is that this -- this is not in a tourist area itself a couple of white guys show up and started loitering. He could make. I'm -- ivory merchant even more wearing. -- fear has investigators and outside keeping an -- -- -- place he says that the local police also have undercover cops giving out of place. And so there are all hopeful that somehow. They'll show up opened shop and -- -- they got so bad. Has not been around here. There's nine running -- -- stop -- we go back the other players like no bombs. I before the reader Patrick cafe and the other -- -- town Julie gets word from over fears that the police station still trying to salvage the re. If this guy is -- wherever it -- -- It's. You -- to aquatic -- Suddenly we -- -- the -- could happen now at any time. So we scramble to take position without being seen -- possible look at us. When we come back and I'll go go following upbeat moment of truth. -- here finally get his man.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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