News / Africa

Report: Militarization of Poaching

Born Free and C4ADS say elephant poaching is several hundred million dollar industry.  (Credit: Born Free USA)
Born Free and C4ADS say elephant poaching is several hundred million dollar industry. (Credit: Born Free USA)

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
A new report says organized crime, government corruption and militias are all linked to elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade. It says poachers in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Sudan and Kenya move across borders with near impunity.
 
The report is called Ivory’s Curse: The Militarization and Professionalization of Poaching in Africa. It’s a joint effort by the conservation group Born Free USA and C4ADS, a non-profit organization that analyzes the drivers of conflict and insecurity.
 
Adam Roberts, Born Free USA CEO, said, “For years, Born Free USA and other animal advocates have campaigned against the trade in elephant ivory, but on conservation and animal welfare concerns. And we wanted to find a little bit more detail about who was behind the ivory trade. It’s not just enough to say it’s criminal syndicates, nefarious profiteers. We wanted to know who is really behind it so that we can try and get governments around the world to do more to crackdown.”
 
Roberts said Born Free needed some help in gathering that kind of information.
 
“That’s one of the reasons that we commissioned C4ADS to do the report for us. Because I think the breadth of our capabilities within the conservation community are pretty much limited to conservation. But having a defense analyst that looks at the militarism behind all of these poaching incidents gives them access to information that we wouldn’t otherwise have,” he said.
 
The report provided regional case studies of the ivory trade. For example, in Sudan, the report said “government-allied militias complicit in the Darfur genocide fund their operations by poaching elephants.” But it goes on to state that poaching occurs hundreds of miles outside of Sudan’s borders.
 
In Somalia, the report blamed the militant group al-Shabab and criminal networks, who poach in neighboring Kenya. The weapons they use, it said, come from local security forces.
 
“It’s not going to come as a shock to anyone that Somalia is implicated in the ivory trade. And again, much like Sudan, you have these actors that are able to move cross borders – from Somalia to different countries in the region. But probably the biggest part of that though is the inability of some of those surrounding countries – those neighboring countries – to deter the ivory trade from the people in neither Sudan nor Somalia because they lack the resources to do so,” he said.
 
The report said organized crime in Mozambique is “willing to battle the South African army and park rangers to poach Rhino horn.”
 
In Gabon and the Republic of Congo, it said that forest exploitation has allowed East Asian organized crime to come to the region and poach Central Africa’s elephants.
 
And Roberts said Zimbabwe continues to be a poaching hot spot.
 
“Partly what’s happening with poaching in Zimbabwe is a result of the political situation where you have a regime that’s been in place for so long that we feel is complicit in the ivory trade because of giving impunity to the actors involved in the ivory trade in the country. That it’s very hard to get a handle on what’s happening. You know, in 1997, when the international ban on trade in elephant ivory was first undermined, one of the countries that was behind that was Zimbabwe. And the meeting, the international meeting where that happened, was held in Harare.”
 
The Born Free USA CEO said combating poaching requires a coordinated strategy all along the ivory trade chain.
 
He said, “So it’s not enough to talk about demand reduction in Asia, which could take years and years to accomplish. And it’s not just about putting boots on the ground, so to speak, and equipping rangers. You have to look at all the different choke points where you can make an impact, including the shipping routes. And so the more we can do to try and close down the ability of these nefarious individuals to move the ivory from elephants that have been slaughtered the more success we’ll have in keeping it off the market in the first place.”
 
Roberts said that coordinated strategy against elephant poaching must, once again, include an “unequivocal international ban on ivory.” In 1989, members of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species – or CITES – agreed to ban international trade in ivory.
 
“Since 1997, you’ve had a continual weakening of that ban. And the more that that happens the more individuals realize that there’s a market either now or in the near future for ivory,” he said.
 
Roberts said there must also be a crackdown on domestic markets. What’s more, he said, problem countries should be readily identified, accompanied by targeted recommendations.
 
“The recommendations that might occur in, say, Tanzania or Zimbabwe, which are related to corruption, are not going to be the same recommendations that you would want in a place like Kenya, where you need to really bolster the infrastructure to ward off the poachers.”
 
The report – Ivory’s Curse – said the ivory trade is “essentially a large-scale illicit resource transfer from Africa to Asia.”
 
Roberts said, “You’re looking at thousands of dollars per kilo of ivory these days, which is sort of back to the pre-1989 international ban levels. The price of ivory has been rising considerably. It’s definitely becoming a conflict resource much like coltan or diamonds in Africa. But when you’re looking at that kind of money, you’re ultimately ending up in a trade that’s worth perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars each year.”
 
Robert called the report a first step. He says he hopes it will encourage defense and foreign affairs officials to get involved.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid