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At Least Two Dead after Possible Oklahoma Tornado; Trump and Abe Attend Sumo Championship; Trump Claims Progress in U.S.-Japan Trade Deal; Contenders Line Up to Succeed British Prime Minister Theresa May; Missing Woman Found in Hawaii Forest after Two Weeks; "Breaking Their Silence" Shines Light on Poaching War. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired May 26, 2019 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A deadly storm tears through the state of Oklahoma. We have the latest on a town waking up to damage.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): President Trump starts off his visit to Japan with a tweet expressing his confidence in North Korea's leader.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANDA ELLER, HIKER: It did come down to life and death and I had to choose. And I chose life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL (voice-over): A story of survival. She was lost in this Hawaiian forest for more than two weeks. We hear from the rescued hiker and talk about her ordeal.
ALLEN (voice-over): These stories ahead this hour. Welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. Live from Atlanta, I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL (voice-over): I'm George Howell. NEWSROOM starts right now.
HOWELL: We start with the breaking news this hour in the state of Oklahoma, a community devastated there after a possible tornado that hit overnight. Emergency officials say at least two people were killed there and multiple injured. This after a severe storm ripped through a mobile home park in the town of El Reno.
ALLEN: That is near Oklahoma City. As you can see in this video, the storm was violent and very destructive. Rescue crews are searching for injured people in the debris, you see there. A nearby hotel also was heavily damaged but the owner says all guests are accounted for.
One survivor from the mobile home park described the terror as the storm approached.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard it coming. I felt the trailer 80, our trailer, I know trailer 80 flipped over on top of 81, which we were in. And after everything was over with and all the shaking and jarring and everybody laying on the floor, the sirens went off.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sirens off a little bit late.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After that all happened.
So you all were in one trailer --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- you heard -- did you hear it coming?
Did you -- what did you see --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt it. I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just got real dark real fast and everything started shaking violently.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I told them to hit the floor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: A trailer park, not a place you want to be when there is a violent storm.
ALLEN: We want to go to the mayor of El Reno. We have him on the line. Matt White on the phone for us.
Matt, thank you so much for giving us the time. We know this is a very tragic evening there or morning in El Reno. We've been told there were two fatalities and many injuries.
What can you tell us?
MATT WHITE, MAYOR OF EL RENO: Yes, we basically had a tornado strike our community. It would be the southeast side of our community. It hit a hotel, motel area and also a trailer park area, along the lines of some businesses also.
So we're trying to pick all the pieces up and assess the damage at this point in time. Our first responders are on the grounds. As we speak, we're been working tirelessly to get everything going. There was an 88-spot trailer park, mobile home park, basically and about probably 15 spots or maybe a couple more were the ones that got hit the hardest.
ALLEN: I think that's what we're seeing now. We're seeing aerial footage of what looks like part of a mobile home park.
These people, are they talking about whether they had warning or were they asleep?
A mobile home park is never a place you want to be. We also know that this hotel that was hit it, all the people there survived but there's not much left of this hotel, either.
WHITE: Sure. And we've going over all the information as we go through the process now but we've been asked that question. It's a nighttime tornado. Nighttime tornadoes are very dangerous. They're very traumatic, they kind of creep up on you.
The main thing is that we -- the tornado hit at the hotel at 10:31 and the sirens were issued at 10:27, the information we have on our call logs now.
ALLEN: What are emergency crews reporting back to you as far as if everyone's being accounted for.
And are there any reports of hospitals of people going there?
WHITE: We have two fatalities that were there. I've been on the ground here since it happened. The chief of police, the fire chief and myself, we're some of the first ones on the scene. We're going to be working through the night and we're kind of waiting for what the daybreak brings on.
There have been several transferred to different locations. St. Anthony's Hospital, El Reno Hospital here and also different locations in Oklahoma City and surrounding communities. So lots of injuries at this point in time. First responders are absolutely still doing a rescue mission at this point.
ALLEN: How widespread would you say is the destruction?
WHITE: It's really concentrated to that one area. It's not as wide. You know, we've been on record, several years ago, not too long ago, of having the world's largest tornado --
ALLEN: Right, an EF-3 I believe.
WHITE: -- and the bottom line is that we isolated that one area of the hotel room, the mobile home park and then some car lots right there in that one area.
ALLEN: We certainly hope that the worst is over here with this storm but this has been just an unbelievable month of May, the month of May is always very touch and go for this part of the country, though.
And how prepared would you say, because of all of the storms we've been seeing, do you think the people there will were before whatever's just happened came through El Reno?
WHITE: Well, once again, I think nighttime tornadoes, people aren't used to them. Oklahoma in general, we all try to stay aware.
WHITE: Our first responders in Reno are absolutely qualified and capable of handling what's going on here. We're very prepared. You know, we've been through a lot, like you said, the last month. Had several floods here in the last month. We've had so much rainfall. We just had some disaster, several areas flooding just the beginning of last week.
So you know, our first responders, along with the sheriff's department, public works, police department, fire department, all the county forces, all of our NSA (ph) units are all hands on deck. And we feel confident that we're going to get through this like we always have before.
El Reno's very resilient. Oklahoma is very resilient. And we're going to have a lot of needs. We just don't know what the needs are at this point in time. We're basically asking everybody to kind of stay away from the area right there, in that one area on 81 and I-40, which is a main thoroughfare.
We're basically trying to let us assess everything at that point in time and let the first responders do their job, finish our rescue mission.
ALLEN: We appreciate your time. This is a harrowing time in El Reno. It's just after 3 o'clock in the morning. So several hours before daylight hits. And we hope everyone is accounted for. Thanks so much, Mayor Matt White. We appreciate you talking with us.
WHITE: Thank you.
HOWELL: You know, Natalie, and the mayor pointed this out in your interview there, but El Reno was hit, you'll remember, back during the tornado outbreak income 2013.
ALLEN: Same month.
HOWELL: Same month. Yes, it was May 31st; keeping in mind about a week earlier, the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado that destroyed that elementary school, all in the month of May 2013. Now these communities are again seeing so much devastation.
ALLEN: Absolutely. We'll continue to follow this story. As we get more information, we'll pass it along to our viewers.
HOWELL: Also, following the U.S. president Donald Trump on a state visit to Japan. He says the United States and Japan are getting closer to a bilateral trade deal. Right now the president and prime minister, Shinzo Abe (sic), are attending a sumo wrestling championship.
ALLEN: Mr. Trump claimed progress on trade after a round of golf Sunday morning with the prime minister but the president cautioned no final agreement would come until after Japanese upper house elections in July.
HOWELL: Earlier Mr. Trump created some diplomatic turbulence with this tweet you see here, "North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people and others, but not me."
That statement directly at odds with Japan's view of North Korea's actions, but if the remarks upset Japan's prime minister, he didn't show it. Mr. Abe was all smiles as he and Trump played golf. The foreign minister said the two leaders deepened their friendship amid a cozy atmosphere on the golf course.
Ivan Watson following the story live for us in Tokyo this day.
The summit seems to be off to, I guess, an awkward start, with the president seeming to place his trust with the dictator of North Korea, which is Japan's most direct threat.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean this is one of the big issues for Japan, is North Korea's nuclear weapons, its ballistic missiles. And President Trump in his tweet directly contradicted not only Japan but also his own national security adviser, John Bolton, who told journalists here in Tokyo on Saturday that the short-range missiles that North Korea fired earlier this month were definitely a contradiction of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
In his tweet, President Trump said, hey, those were is small weapons that didn't really bother him, though they bothered some others. The other key issue between Japan and the U.S. is trade. And there President Trump tweeted that the two leaders were making progress but they were going to hold off on making a deal until after Japan holds elections for the house of counselors in July.
That's the essentially the upper house of parliament. That is a bit of a concession to his Japanese ally at a time when the government here says its economy, it's forecasting that its economy is slowing down.
So in one sense, contradicting his Japanese ally. In the other sense, giving a concession to his Japanese ally as he and the prime minister continue to enjoy all of these things. They choppered out to a golf course today and, moments ago, they walked into a stadium, where you have the finals of a tournament of sumo wrestling.
WATSON (voice-over): It is the most iconic of Japanese sports, sumo, a contest between huge men grappling in a tiny ring.
WATSON (voice-over): And the U.S. president is getting a front row seat for the finals of the grand sumo tournament during his visit to Tokyo.
WATSON: What would you advise President Trump to know about the sport as he's about to attend?
JOHN GUNNING, SUMO EXPERT: Rules itself -- the rules themselves are very simple, it's a down or out situation. So I think he won't have any problem understanding what is going on in the ring.
WATSON (voice-over): John Gunning is an Irish sports columnist based in Japan. He says President Trump will witness firsthand an ancient tradition.
GUNNING: The pageantry and everything is several hundreds of years, perhaps thousands of years of Japanese tradition and culture, all mixed together: religion, sports, entertainment. It's a mishmash of all of those things.
WATSON (voice-over): This Irish expatriate is an expert when it comes to sumo.
GUNNING: Joining sumo itself is like joining a monastic order.
WATSON (voice-over): He competed as amateur wrestler and has the scars to prove it.
GUNNING: Personally myself, I fractured a skull, broke teeth, fractured an eye socket, broke an arm lengthways into three pieces. And almost every single time, I did sumo training I ended up with some kind of injury.
WATSON (voice-over): President Trump is no stranger to a very different, quintessentially American style of wrestling. Before his political career, he made appearances in U.S. professional wrestling shows.
But Japan's much older version of the sport is much more spartan. Often starting at the age of 15, athletes live, eat and train in stables. Only those few who claw their way to the top become wealthy superstars.
Centuries of history and tradition give sumo a special place in Japanese society.
GUNNING: It has a special place, I think, in the heart, even people who are not sports fans are sumo fans.
WATSON (voice-over): On Sunday, the U.S. president will present a trophy to Japan's next national champion. It will be called the president's cup.
(END VIDEOTAPE) WATSON: So George and Natalie, I'm sure and the viewers want to know how this tournament is developing. First of all, we know already the outcome, that the winner is going to be a rookie, by professional sumo standards, a 25-year-old Japanese athlete named Asanoyama.
But he's already wrestled in front of the Japanese prime minister and President Trump and he lost. But he still wins despite this loss by sheer points and numbers of wins throughout the whole tournament.
Now the president's cup, that's the trophy that President Trump will be awarding, it is the size of a small child. It's about 4.5 feet tall, weighs 60 to 70 pounds.
And we're told that President Trump will actually be going onto the sacred mound, that ring, where the wrestlers gather and he will be presenting it there, wearing slippers, according to sumo etiquette, and he will be reading from a scroll.
This is worth noting. Melania Trump, the first lady, will not be allowed in the sacred mound because, according to sumo's ancient rules, women are not allowed in this sacred space. That's been a controversy in professional sumo in recent years here in Japan -- Natalie.
HOWELL: Ivan Watson, thank you.
ALLEN: It has always been risky to climb Mt. Everest but as the crowds of people wanting to scale the world's tallest mountain grow larger, the danger grows, too. That's coming up.
HOWELL: Welcome back. The U.S. president is into day two of his four-day state visit to Japan. Right now he and the prime minister, Shinzo Abe (sic), are attending a sumo tournament.
ALLEN: We'll see how the president enjoyed that.
HOWELL: The two leaders also played a round of golf there and after that the president claimed the U.S. and Japan were getting close to a trade deal.
ALLEN: But it was this tweet from Trump that raised eyebrows. The president said, "North Korea fired off some small weapons which disturbed some of my people and others but not me."
That statement directly at odds with Japan's view of North Korea's actions. Let's talk about it with Scott Lucas. He teaches international
politics at the University of Birmingham in England and is the founder and editor of "EA WorldView."
Hi, Scott, thanks for being with us.
SCOTT LUCAS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Good morning.
ALLEN: I want to ask you, on his first full day in Japan, the president tweets that he trusts their biggest regional foe, North Korea, when we know the small weapons North Korea recently fired are often aimed at Japan.
Why would the president say that?
LUCAS: Because it's all about the 2020 effort to get re-election. See, it's interesting how that tweet continues, Natalie, because the next sentence then says that Kim Jong-un, who is now effectively an ally of Donald Trump, at least in his eyes, allegedly called Joe Biden, who is running for president, a low IQ individual.
So what Trump did was two things in this tweet. First is, he keeps saying, I can make this deal with North Korea. I can make this deal with North Korea, dismissing his U.S. agencies, who see there are serious problems.
And then he says and, by the way, the North Koreans agree with me that Joe Biden is awful. This will only go on and on until November 2020, because Donald Trump's overriding concern is not the nuclear missile programs in North Korea or, indeed, the security of Japan, where he is right now. It's whether or not he gets a second term in the White House.
ALLEN: Yes, and he's getting pushback from candidate Biden on that.
Meantime, though, Scott, Shinzo Abe (sic) continues to court the U.S. president even as the president seems to shrug off a hostile move by North Korea, which would be harmful to Japan.
Why is the Japanese leader so invested in Donald Trump?
What does he get from it?
LUCAS: Well, because in general -- and this isn't just Shinzo Abe (sic) -- most leaders around the world know that if you're going to maneuver --
LUCAS: -- or arguably manipulate Trump, you flatter him. We've seen the Saudis do it and Russia's Vladimir Putin do it and now we see the Japanese lay on the ceremony. Trump loves golf so Shinzo Abe (sic) takes a selfie with Trump on the golf course.
The sumo tournament, where Trump gets to be guest of honor. But the practical issue behind this, look, Trump imposed tariffs not only on China, as we know, not only on the European Union but he imposed tariffs on Japan. And Japan would like to reduce those tariffs so they're going to play up to Trump, even though I don't think we'll see any trade deal.
Even in Trump's own tweets, he says it won't occur until after July. And Japan can't just walk away from the U.S. even if they're upset with Trump, whether they like or not what he says on Twitter, the U.S. is key to regional security, especially with the North Korea issue being unresolved.
ALLEN: Do you think Donald Trump values the alliance with Japan?
LUCAS: I think Donald Trump values a photo opportunity and I think he values anybody who likes to play up to him. I think what that means for the U.S.-Japanese alliance and other areas, such as the U.S.-NATO alliance, that's better left to the officials than what Donald Trump thinks.
ALLEN: I want to ask you this though.
From a global diplomacy perspective, might this long visit in Japan help boost the president at a time when is he in various dogfights with Democrats back at home?
LUCAS: Yes, I think that's what obviously the Trump team hopes. You know, this is the leader, this is the president. They want to get that boost of the incumbency going in 2020.
But the flipside is how does it play with Americans?
Do Americans actually see stability, do they actually see a coherent foreign policy, not only in the photos but on Twitter?
Or actually are they seeing this kind of instability, this uncertainty?
In the words of Rex Tillerson, who just said last week that Donald Trump, while Tillerson was secretary of state, was almost incoherent and out of control.
And what did Donald Trump do?
He went on Twitter, to say that Rex Tillerson was a very dumb man.
ALLEN: Well, we'll be seeing what else he tweets because he's got three more days there in Japan. And we appreciate your insights as always. Scott Lucas, thank you.
LUCAS: Thank you, Natalie.
HOWELL: Mt. Everest, it has been a deadlier than usual climbing season. Since Friday three people have died trying to reach the summit of the world's tallest mountain. That brings the number of dead or presumed dead this year to nine.
ALLEN: The latest casualty was a British mountaineer who died on Saturday. On his last post to social media, he warned that overcrowding at the summit could prove fatal -- his words there.
That traffic jam, the one you see there, earlier this week, may have contributed to two deaths. Nepal's tourism director calls that claim baseless and blames altitude sickness.
HOWELL: Alan Arnette has climbed Mt. Everest four times. He's experienced a lot with what he calls the death zone, that's the part of the mountain where oxygen is dangerously low. And earlier he told our colleague Martin Savidge his thoughts on how high traffic in the death zone might relate to the recent deaths.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN ARNETTE, MOUNTAIN CLIMBER: There's a confluence of factors that have all come together this year with the perfect deadly storm on Everest. It starts with Nepal issued a record number of permits to foreigners of 381 permits, plus they require a Sherpa guide for each foreigner. That means there's 800 people just on the Nepal side.
The second thing is that normally the jet stream sits on top of the summit of Mount Everest for 50 out of the 52 weeks each year. Then it moves off amazingly in the middle of May and opens up what's called the weather windows or summit windows. Last year, there were 11 consecutive days, the longest on record.
Normally, it's around five to seven to eight days. This year, it's been only five. So you have 800 people trying to squeeze through a very small window.
On Everest, at 8,000 meters, almost 29,000 feet, your body is slowly degrading. It's called the death zone for a reason. Our bodies slowly die at those altitudes.
If you spend 10, 12, 14 hours just trying to go to the summit, typically, you don't take enough supplemental oxygen for that. And then you've got half that amount of time, maybe six or seven hours, to get back down at that pace. So you're talking about a 20-hour day above 26,000 feet and that's a recipe for disaster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Alan Arnette knows what it's like to summit that mountain. We'll hear more from him in the next hour of NEWSROOM.
ALLEN: Conservative heavyweights in the U.K. are throwing their hats into the ring to succeed prime minister Theresa May.
Will the winner be able to strike a Brexit deal?
That's the question. We'll have a live report from London next.
HOWELL: Plus a week's long search operation ends in triumph. The rescued hiker speaks out about her journey and what it took to stay alive.
(MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ALLEN: Welcome back. To viewers here in the U.S. and around the world, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL: I'm George Howell.
HOWELL: Now to the United Kingdom, where Conservative Party candidates are lining up for a leadership contest to select the next prime minister.
ALLEN: Theresa May announced on Friday she will be stepping down as party leader on June 7th after failing to get her Brexit deal passed.
HOWELL: The former foreign secretary, Boris Johnson --
HOWELL: -- is the current front-runner to replace Ms. May but the contest is wide open with about a dozen Conservative MPs joining or hoping to join that race. Let's go live to London. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is following the story.
Salma, how does this process work to narrow the field of Conservatives who want this job?
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: Well, George, we're expecting, we already have certain people who have put their name forward for the candidacy of the Conservative leadership party but we're expecting 10 to 15 or even more people to come forward.
Now over the next few weeks you're going to see all the candidates come forward with their pitches, with their agendas. In a few weeks' time, once the prime minister steps down, those names will be whittled down to just two potential candidates.
Those two candidates will be voted on by paper ballot by the Conservative members or by the Conservative membership, which is about 125,000 people across the country, who submit a paper ballot by the end of July, we should have a new prime minister in place but the concern is that it's only October 31st that the U.K. officially leaves the E.U., giving that new prime minister just three months time -- George and Natalie.
HOWELL: That is the question, Salma. A new prime minister sure but the dynamics around Brexit don't really change a lot. It's the same deal that Parliament has rejected time after time after time.
ABDELAZIZ: That's absolutely right. And all eyes are, of course, on this contest. I just brought you a few Sunday papers so you can see what people are talking about here,
"The Race Is On," from "The Sunday Telegraph."
"Get Boris! Gove challenges his rival again."
"Stop Boris Johnson," here from "The Observer."
And this one, "Turning Toxic Already."
So you can just see there, people here have watched this bitter infighting happening for three years now, as Brexit has been delayed and postponed and really there's not much appetite for more political infighting, more of these rivalries to take place.
That's exactly what's happening. Analysts will tell you, it's not an issue of who is the prime minister. It's not an issue of who holds office because those obstacles are still in place. Parliament is still in deadlock. There is no consensus there.
And Brussels has already said they're not going to spend time renegotiating what they've been negotiating for 2.5 years, so really the nightmare of Brexit continues.
HOWELL: You mentioned this process taking about three years. This new prime minister will have three months to try to get it over the hurdle.
ABDELAZIZ: That's exactly right.
HOWELL: Salma Abdelaziz, thank you again for the reporting. We'll keep in touch.
ALLEN: Yes, good luck with that, whoever steps in.
Now to another important vote, that would be the European election. Sunday is the last day for voters to cast a ballot in the world's biggest multicountry election.
HOWELL: We're talking about more than 350 million people eligible to choose representatives in the European Parliament. We'll start seeing results from the election in the coming hours. Results will shape the European Union for the next five years.
Still ahead this hour, a thank you message from a hiker rescued in Hawaii.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
A. ELLER: People that know me, people that don't know me all came together just under the idea of helping one person make it out of the woods alive.
HOWELL (voice-over): It is a remarkable story of survival. You'll hear it ahead. (END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: In Hawaii, a woman who disappeared after going hiking two weeks ago has been found alive deep inside a forest.
ALLEN: And now Amanda Eller is speaking out about her experience and she's thanking all the people who searched and prayed for her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
A. ELLER: There were times of total fear and loss and wanting to give up and it did come down to life and death and I had to choose. And I chose life. I wasn't going to take the easy way out even though that meant more suffering and pain for myself.
But this is just like a tiny little blip of my story. Just seeing the power of prayer and the power of love, when everybody combines their efforts, is incredible. It can move mountains. And at some point, I think we all thought that was lost in the world. And it's beautiful to know that it's not only lost but it's just -- it's so prevalent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Boy, is she happy to be alive.
Amanda also thanked everyone who donated money for her search and rescue.
HOWELL: She says the funds are paying for the helicopters that located her. Our Jessica Dean brings us the details of the rescue operation.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN (voice-over): Missing more than two weeks, Amanda Eller is found alive in Maui, Hawaii. Her rescue announced by this Facebook page set up by family and friends.
"Urgent update: Amanda has been found. She got lost and was stuck and slightly injured in the Makawao Forest, between two waterfalls, in deep ravine in a creek bed."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can cry now. It's awesome. That's like the best --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got a good Memorial Day now. DEAN: A photo on the page showed Eller just before the air evacuation surrounded by members of a search team. She appeared to be only slightly injured. And this picture of the ravine where she was apparently found.
JULIA ELLER, AMANDA'S MOTHER: I was crying tears of joy.
DEAN: Her mother, Julia Eller, told affiliate KHON Amanda used water sources and ate the berries she found, strawberries, guava and other items, to sustain her.
J. ELLER: I never gave up hope for a minute. Even though at times I would have those moments of despair, I stayed strong for her because I knew we would find her if we just stayed with the program, stayed persistent.
DEAN: Authorities say Eller, a 35-year-old yoga instructor, disappeared after going on a hike May 8th. Her car was found with her cellphone inside at a forest reserve parking lot. A last image of her was captured on surveillance video buying a Mother's Day gift the day before she was reported missing.
A $50,000 reward was being offered for information regarding her disappearance or possible abduction.
But now, there's an ending that some are calling miraculous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unbelievable. If you believe in prayer, folks --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- thank your Lord because this is an answer.
DEAN (voice-over): Jessica Dean, CNN, Atlanta.
HOWELL: That is just incredible.
ALLEN: Her family, what they went through. She's so fortunate.
Coming up here, the world of wildlife poaching is back in the spotlight as Botswana moves to lift its ban on elephant hunting. When we return, one filmmaker's attempt to shine a light on the controversial practice and those trying to stop it.
ALLEN: Conservationists have a warning for Botswana, its decision to lift its ban on elephant hunting could mean the species' extinction. The South African nation, which is home to some 130,000 elephants,
imposed a ban on killing elephants in 2014 to try and stop poaching but the government now says elephants raid crops, affect livelihoods and destroy water supplies, sometimes injuring people.
One filmmaker hopes her new film will help change laws like the one in Botswana.
Kerry David and her crew recently completed a documentary that shines a light on poaching and the females, the women of Africa, who try to protect these animals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY DAVID, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: I found out about the human animal wildlife crisis and the poaching crisis and then I started to research it. The more I researched, the worse the information got.
But I started to hear about some incredible women who were doing remarkable things. I thought, I'm a filmmaker. What I can do is tell their stories.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: And Kerry David, the woman behind "Breaking Their Silence," joins me now.
Kerry, thanks so much for joining us.
DAVID: Thanks so much for having me, Natalie. Lovely to meet you.
ALLEN: Of course, same here. You're an award-winning filmmaker and advocate, trying to prevent the extinction of multiple species by using your talent for filmmaking. Your film focuses on the women, the female rangers, that risk their lives to protect wildlife in Africa.
First, why is this unique, that there is a female corps in Africa doing this?
DAVID: It's unique for a couple of reasons. It's a patriarchal society. So women at the forefront of this fight is it usual itself. But it's also unusual because, when I first went over there, it was to start a non-profit called Over and Above Africa and I wanted to really research what was happening.
When I got there, there were some incredible men doing phenomenal work in the space but I couldn't see any of the women. I thought, I know they're there. Slowly I started talking to some women, saying can you point out one or two women who are working in this space?
Then the most phenomenal women were stepping forward and I got to meet them. So it was almost like there was an underground silent team of women. That was unusual also.
ALLEN: How did it come about that women decided, we want to be on the forefront of this, too, we want to the protect wildlife and what is sacred to Africa?
DAVID: I think it was necessity. I think what they were seeing was many of the women came into triage, what was happening, Petronel was a captain in the police force in South Africa, which in itself is unusual. And there was so much damage being left behind by poachers that she started a rhino orphanage and left the police force altogether.
None of the women I interviewed had the idea of being in conservation when they first started out. They sort of came to it because women are by nature compassionate and empathetic and I think they felt they had to step into this space and start triaging and then from that growing into the occupations that they did.
ALLEN: We know how dangerous this work is. I mean -- and you say in your film, there is a demand, much of it coming from Asian countries for rhino horn, for ivory. And you've got abject poverty in Africa, people that will supply it because they need the funding.
Give us an example of how dangerous the work is that these women are doing to fight these poachers and protect these animals.
DAVID: I could give you so many examples. I'll use one which is Inga (ph) Lotter. Inga (ph) was in Tanzania with her husband, Wayne Lotter, and he was with PAMS Foundation. The work they were doing in Tanzania was phenomenal. They were starting to really have an affect. In fact, the elephants are starting to come back in numbers.
This got very dangerous because they started to get threats, Wayne specifically said, we know where your wife is, we know where your children are. So he sent his children and his wife back to South Africa just for their safety.
Shortly after that, Wayne, unfortunately, was murdered. In fact, he was on his way back to his daughter's 21st birthday party when he was pulled over and they still haven't found or prosecuted any of the people that were responsible.
But it is believed that it was the crime syndicate that were so upset by what he was doing and so effectively that that's how come there was a hit out on him. So now Inga (ph) and her two daughters have paid that severe price, not only having lost their husband and father but not knowing who did it or why.
ALLEN: Yes, that is just a horrible story. I really feel for her. Let's talk about the impact that these women are having on the frontlines. And I ask this at a time when we've just learned that Botswana just announced the country will resume allowing the hunting of animals such as elephants. Talk about that if you could.
DAVID: You know, it's heartbreaking because, all along, I've been learning about this for the last four or five years. All along, we've been able to hold Botswana up and say, this is the model, the country working with the animals so beautifully with tourism.
Big Life, I'd love to share this with you, Natalie, but Big Life released a report that they did a study. And over the life of an elephant, through tourism, they can bring in approximately, each elephant, $140 million approximately.
But if you kill it just to hunt it, it's $40,000. So, actually, it is more effective to find ways to keep these elephants alive and find ways to live in harmony with mankind than it is to actually lift the ban, as this new president has done, and declare open season on these elephants, which are such beautiful sentient beings.
ALLEN: Last question here. So you made this film --
ALLEN: -- in record time, 18 months. You went to several countries. You went to Asia.
What do you hope your film will do for this effort and for women as well?
DAVID: Thank you for asking that question. So when I found out about it, I felt hopeless and I felt helpless. And I thought, what one thing could I do?
What could I bring to this?
I'm a filmmaker. What I could do, I could bring my filmmaking skills and tell their stories. So what I would hope that anyone who watched the film, which is a hopeful, inspirational film, it's not a difficult film to watch, that they would be inspired to step up and bring whatever their unique skill is to this.
Because we need to stand up and fight for these animals' existence. If we don't do it now, we'll run out of time. Right now we have a little bit of time to act.
ALLEN: Very well said. We must make use of that time.
The film is "Breaking Their Silence," filmmaker Kerry David. Thank you so much for joining us and thank you so much for what you are doing and what you have done. We wish you all the best.
DAVID: Thank you, Natalie.
ALLEN: To find out where to catch a screening of the film, visit breakingtheirsilence.com and click on "screenings."
HOWELL: We have to show you the size of this particular boulder. This boulder is so big, it is the size of a building, so massive it's stopping traffic on a highway Colorado.
ALLEN: It looks liking it cut right through the highway. Actually, there are two rocks and they're part of a rockslide that left a trench eight feet deep or about 2.5 meters. The road was still closed Saturday. Authorities are looking to blast one of the monster rocks into smaller pieces.
The day's top stories are just ahead here.
HOWELL: Stay with us.