News / Africa

    Addressing Poaching as Terrorism

    With the increases in price, demand of ivory in South-East Asian countries, Kenya Wildlife Service says poaching activities have increased to the highest ever recorded loss in a single year of 384 elephants and 19 rhinos in 2012, January 16, 2013.
    With the increases in price, demand of ivory in South-East Asian countries, Kenya Wildlife Service says poaching activities have increased to the highest ever recorded loss in a single year of 384 elephants and 19 rhinos in 2012, January 16, 2013.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Joe DeCapua
    There’s an expanding front on the war against terrorism. The U-S recently launched a 10-million dollar initiative to help combat animal poaching in Africa. Money from the illegal trade in animal products may be supporting various militant groups on the continent. But one expert says the U-S initiative alone won’t be enough to solve the problem.


    Johan Bergenas said current anti-poaching efforts have not been successful in stopping the slaughter of thousands of animals every year.

    “Poaching as a transnational criminal activity is of course not new. We have seen an increased level of killing of defenseless animals over the last 12 to 18 months.”

    Bergenas is deputy director of the Managing Across Boundaries Initiative at the Stimson Center – a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank in Washington.

    “The more interesting and dangerous pattern though is that transnational criminal groups, who are trafficking other illicit goods, be it drugs or arms or you name it and also terrorist organizations, are now increasingly profiting off of poaching and adjacent activities,” he said.

    Somali militants are among those benefitting from poaching.

    “The Kenya Wildlife Service has reported for a number of years now a strong link to al-Shabab, which is of course a Somalia-based al-Qaeda affiliate. And also we are seeing increased eyewitness reports from people who have left these networks and come out and testify that, for example, the Lord’s Resistance Army, and its head Joseph Kony, is specifically targeting poaching and the revenues that can be taken from that activity and buying supplies  and arms and other equipment,” he said

    Game park rangers and others involved in anti-poaching efforts are often outmanned and outgunned.

    Bergenas said, “These poachers are no longer using non-sophisticated weapons. They are really going after the use of helicopters, machine guns, vision goggles that they can see at night. And we have to respond with the technology that –‘the good guys’ have in managing these issues.”

    The Stimson Center official said that the recent action taken by the Obama administration is a big step in the right direction.

    “President Obama has put together a task force that is going to look at [an] interagency process to fight illicit trafficking and wildlife more broadly. And so at the end of that process, there will be a report and a U.S. national strategy to that end. He also committed an additional $10 million, which of course will not be enough to manage this threat.”

    He said the U.S. and its European allies need to take a fundamentally different approach when they partner with African nations.

    “We need to increasingly find development issues, security issues – be it arms or drugs or poaching or whatever it might be – and try to alter our programs to better partner with these countries. And so at the end of the day, we will get our high priority satisfied – be it counter-terrorism or proliferation – and they will get their high priorities – be it poaching or curbing transnational crime or what ever it might be.”

    African nations, he added, need to have better arms and equipment to match those of the poachers. Bergenas says drones could also be a part of anti-poaching efforts, but not the kind that carry weapons, only cameras for surveillance.

    “When the poachers are sent into these game parks to kill the rhino or the elephants -- and to take their tusks and their horns – how did they get there? How are they able to get around police, wildlife services and other counter poaching efforts? How are they trafficking these high value items throughout their countries – across borders – and into the international illicit market? And that is an interesting use of this new technology,” he said.

    He said lessons learned from a holistic approach to poaching may lead to better ways to control drug trafficking, cigarette and arms smuggling. Another big step toward curbing poaching in Africa, Bergenas said, would be to curb the demand for illegal animal products in Asia.

    You May Like

    Ugandan Opposition Candidate: Only Intimidation, Vote Buying Can Prevent Victory

    Kizza Besigye says he has been drawing large crowds and claims he has widespred support ahead of Feb. 18 vote

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    Sanctions Just Got Real for Over 54,000 North Koreans

    Shuttering of Kaesong complex ends virtually any hope of peaceful settlement to long-standing tensions on Korean peninsula in near future

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.