Kathryn Bigelow, the Oscar-winning director behind such films as "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Hurt Locker," has used her talents in storytelling to create a harrowing three-minute short focused on the illegal ivory trade. 

Titled "Last Days," the film takes viewers in reverse chronological order through every step of the ivory industry — highlighting the horror, suffering, and even terrorism funded by the poaching of elephants. 

“An elephant disappears every 15 minutes,” said Bigelow, who collaborated on the film with WildAid and Annapurna Pictures. “It is our hope that this film helps to bring an activist into existence at least that often.”

Bigelow, a long-time animal advocate, said she was inspired to create the short after a conversation with Chelsea and Hillary Clinton

"Chelsea had just returned from sub-Saharan Africa, where poachers killed herds of elephants by cyanide poisoning,” she said. “After our conversation I felt compelled to enter this space, encourage a dialogue, raise awareness."

Instead of a live-action film, which Bigelow admitted might come too late to make a difference, the director opted for something different. 

"I approached a team of fellow filmmakers and we made ‘Last Days’ as an animated piece, which we thought would give it a broader audience (besides, the Internet is filled with graphic images of slaughtered elephants and yet the killing continues)," she said. "There are real things we can all do to stop wild elephants from disappearing from our world while cutting off funding for some of the world’s most notorious terrorist networks."

You can watch the short (which contains some graphic content) below. To learn how to take action to prevent further slaughter, check out the companion site, LastDaysofIvory.com.

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Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Kathryn Bigelow addresses illegal ivory trade with film
Oscar-winning director hopes the animated short inspires people to take action before it's too late.