In a room adorned with evidence of his hunting success, John Jackson says he feels no remorse about any of the elephants he has killed for sport in Africa.
Watch "Racing Extinction" on Discovery Channel, Dec. 2, at 9 PM ET/PT.
"Most elephants I have ended up shooting were in self-defense," he insists, though he'd never have to defend himself against charging elephants if he hadn't paid up to $60,000 for a permit that allowed him to fly to Africa, stalk and kill them.
"They're bullies," he says of the world's largest land animal, and one of its most intelligent. "They murder for a living."
Isn't he concerned that African elephant numbers are in precipitous decline?
No, he says. "If anything, the greatest threat to African elephants is over-protection."
Leon Lamprecht disagrees. "We are in a war," to save the species, says Lamprecht, who oversees Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He, Jackson and others are featured in a chilling documentary, Blood Ivory, which airs on Tuesday night in the United States on HBO, as part of the monthly series Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.
It makes for frequently uncomfortable, if compelling, viewing. Correspondent David Scott embedded with Lamprecht and his anti-poaching patrol in Garamba. He spent time at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant sanctuary in Kenya, where orphaned elephants -- "confused, traumatized and stressed" after their mothers have been killed and their tusks hacked off -- are "showered with attention and care."
And he examines how the black market trade in elephant ivory -- one large tusk can fetch $80,000 -- is creating a situation where, Lamprecht tells Scott, "If we're not successful, there will be no elephants remaining in Africa. You and me will be among the fortunate few who have seen a live elephant."
Poachers have illegally killed 100,000 elephants in just the last few years; Sixty percent of the elephants in Tanzania have been killed by poachers in the same time frame. In some cases, the poaching is done by rebel forces such as, in Congo, Joseph Kony's infamous Lord's Resistance Army; many of the poaching units are hugely efficient, swooping in by helicopter, slaughtering a couple of dozen elephants, hacking out their tusks, and loading their booty on to the chopper and taking off.