Saturday, 16 November 2013

Terrorists slaughter African elephants, use ivory to finance operations
Ashish Kumar Sen, The Washington Times
November 13, 2013

A growing number of terrorist groups in Africa are turning to the illegal trade of elephant tusks to finance their operations, cashing in on a massive demand for ivory 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.

“For al-Shabab, ivory, like charcoal, is just a fast and relatively easy way to make some cash, which is needed first of all to pay a salary to its militants, estimated at around 5,000 people,” said Andrea Crosta, executive director of Elephant Action League, who along with Nir Kalron, chief executive officer of the private security firm Maisha Consulting, has recently investigated al-Shabab’s links to ivory trafficking.

Somali armed gangs have been poaching elephants in and around Kenya for many years, but al-Shabab has only recently started to exploit this situation. The investigation by Mr. Crosta and Mr. Kalron estimates al-Shabab’s monthly ivory income to be $200,000 to $600,000.

An investigation by the Enough Project and the Satellite Sentinel Project this year found that Kony has ordered his Lord's Resistance Army fighters to bring him elephant tusks, which are then used to buy food, weapons and ammunition.

Boko Haram, which the State Department on Wednesday designated as a foreign terrorist organization, gets money from ivory trafficking as well.

Many other smaller and illegal armed groups in sub-Saharan Africa are involved in poaching elephants and trafficking ivory.

Ivory is one of many sources of income for terrorist organizations.

“What African governments are realizing and what the U.S. government has realized is that this is not just a conservation issue anymore because the money from this ivory is being used to fund terrorist activities and destabilize regions in Africa,” said Kathleen Garrigan, a spokeswoman for the African Wildlife Foundation. “[These governments] realize this is a peace and security issue.

On Thursday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will, for the first time, destroy nearly 6 tons of African and Asian elephant ivory.

The crushing of the ivory stockpile at a warehouse in Denver is intended to send a message to poachers and traffickers that the United States will take all available steps to disrupt and prosecute those who prey on and profit from the killing of elephants.

The Philippines in June became the first consumer country to destroy its stockpile of ivory. Gabon, Kenya and Zambia also have destroyed seized ivory.

Besides the Philippines, large quantities of ivory have been seized in Hong KOng Kong, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are the main sources of ivory in Africa.

Wildlife groups estimate that 10,000 to 25,000 elephants are slaughtered in Tanzania each year for their tusks.

The State Department on Wednesday announced a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to the disruption of a wildlife trafficking syndicate in Laos, called the Zaysavang Network and led by a smuggler named Vixay Keosavang.

On a visit to Tanzania in July, President Obama issued an executive order to combat wildlife trafficking.

The order calls on the U.S. government to develop a national strategy by the end of the year that may include proposed collaboration with other governments to fight wildlife trafficking.

Full article at the following link:
For further information on elephants please see Save the Elephants' web site

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