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.
TEXT SIZE - +
— 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

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid