The poaching link to terrorism
A growing number of terrorist groups in Africa are turning to the illegal trade of elephant tusks and rhino horn to finance their operations, cashing in on a massive demand spurred by a burgeoning, wealthier middle class in Asia.
Al Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab in Somalia, Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army in central Africa and Boko Haram in Nigeria are among the militants making money from trafficking ivory tusks from slaughtered elephants to pay their fighters and buy arms and ammunition.
Elsewhere syndicate operations have been identified across Asia, including Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and China. Asia is the main source of demand where rhino horn and elephant tusks are seen as a symbol of status. In Vietnam and China many believe that ground rhino horn has medicinal properties even though there is no scientific evidence for this. In fact rhino horns are composed largely of the protein keratin, so you’d do just as well chewing your fingernails.
Rhino horn has a street value of more than $65,000 a kg in Asia, making it more valuable than platinum, gold or cocaine.
Read WWF report: 2012-2013 Illegal Wildlife report
Illegal Wildlife Trade is a US$19 Billion criminal enterprise
The damage to the fabric of international society is wide ranging and complex
Wildlife is vital to the lives of a high proportion of the world’s population
The challenge: perhaps the last form of global organized crime to be addressed seriously
Read 2013 Enough! report: Kony’s terrorist links to poaching
This report demonstrates how killing elephants in Congo is helping to support the LRA’s continuing atrocities across central Africa. It links the group’s activities in Garamba to the growing regional and global ivory trade, which is threatening the survival of African elephants.
“The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has been documenting and analysing environmental crimes and abuses that impact our natural world for three decades. The role of serious and organised criminal networks in wildlife crime is not an overnight phenomenon, but in the face of chronic government failure to treat it seriously, networks have persisted and prospered. Yet there are also examples where enforcement has been effective. Many frontline officers take great risks to curb wildlife poaching and smuggling. Specialised agencies and international organisations are yielding results. This dedication must be backed by political commitment to turn the tide against the current escalation of wildlife crime. Now is the time for enforcement, not extinction.”
-Environmental Investigation Agency, February 2014
Read 2014 EIA report.