News / Africa

Illegal Ivory Trade Funds Rebels in Central Africa

A seized handicraft item made of ivory sits near seized elephant tusks at a Malaysian customs office in Port Klang outside Kuala Lumpur, December 13, 2011.
A seized handicraft item made of ivory sits near seized elephant tusks at a Malaysian customs office in Port Klang outside Kuala Lumpur, December 13, 2011.
International and Cameroonian wildlife organizations blame rebel groups for the slaughter of almost 12,000 elephants in Central African countries since 2004. They say the rebels are working with corrupt government officials to sell the Ivory to Asia to finance their insurgencies. 

The World Conservation Society, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, and the International Union for Nature Conservation are among the groups joining Cameroonian non-governmental organizations this week to accuse rebels groups in Central Africa of fueling the illegal ivory trade.
 
At a news conference late Thursday in Yaounde, they said 11,000 elephants were killed in Minkebe Park, in northeast Gabon since 2004. Last year, 300 elephants were killed in Cameroon and in March this year, 86 elephants - including 33 pregnant females - were killed in Chad.

Despite measures to protect the elephants - experts said their populations have fallen by more than 60 percent in the region in the past decade.
 
Jules Caron, head of communications for the WWF’s anti-poaching unit in Central Africa, said it no secret that rebel groups are using the illegal trade to fund their activities. “There is a group like the Lord’s Resistance Army that has been proving links between [setting an example of] how to fund their activities through illegal wildlife trade and ivory poaching. There is elephant poaching done by them in the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they use ivory to sell in return for arms," Caron stated. "It is the same with the Sudanese Janjaweed where there is links in the north of Cameroon and the Central African Republic with those hunters [poachers] that have links with the Janjaweeds.”
 
Rebels are accused of distributing sophisticated weapons to the poachers - some of which became available when countries like Libya were destabilized by uprisings.

This is forcing Cameroon to deploy its national army in the fight against these increasingly dangerous poachers.

But the rebels are only part of the equation.  Experts said this trade could not happen without high-level cooperation. They said rebels work with well-established networks of government officials to kill the elephants and transport their ivory to Asia.  

“It’s thousands and thousands of tusks. How is it possible? … Government, high level government officials, have not only been proven to be involved, but are being prosecuted for that,” said Caron.

The WWF’s Caron said the best strategy would be for Asian governments to ban all ivory trade, reduce the potential for profit. "The key action that we have been pushing is to ban the legal ivory trade in Taiwan. If Taiwan will ban ivory trade, then it will be one country less in illegal ivory trade. Then there is the issue of China. There is also illegal ivory trade in China,” he stated.

Wildlife organizations are strongly urging governments to adopt a zero tolerance policy on poaching to prevent the possible extinction of the African elephant.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs