Monday, 10 June 2013

Elephant Poaching, Joseph Kony, and State-Sponsored Poaching

Many sources have made allegations that elephant poaching is on the decline. However, that is not the case as elephants continue to be poached for their ivory. The ivory trade is extremely lucrative, with prices at a record high. As is the case with the black market rhino horn trade, ivory trade also persists due to a high interest from many Asian countries. Ivory and rhino horns are both used in traditional medicines that have been proven not to work, however the demand is still extremely strong.

You guys may remember the famous warlord, Joseph Kony, who was thrown into the international spotlight after a short video found its way on the interwebs. Kony is the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda who continues to wreak havoc throughout the country. There are also bands scattered throughout South Sudan, the Congo, and the Central African Republic. The LRA is known for its ruthlessness, pillaging villages, mutilating citizens, and recruiting children to serve as soldiers. However, since the video's release in 2012, Kony's LRA has found itself with depleted resources and no steady stream of income.

Two US-based organizations, the Enough Project and the Satellite Sentinel Project, recently released information about Kony and the LRA turning to poaching and the ivory trade as a means to generating income. There have been reports that they are using funds from the trade to purchase arms, ammunition, and sustenance.

Because the LRA is so infamous for extreme violence and ruthlessness, it is scary to learn about this new venture. With the number of elephants still on the decline, having such rebel groups added to the list of poachers only means bad news for Africa's elephants and other wildlife that generates money. Along with the LRA, state-sponsored militias from Sudan, South Sudan, and the Congo have also been responsible for many elephant killings throughout Central Africa in order to fund their efforts.

One can only hope that this trend does not accelerate and gain popularity in areas where elephants abound. It is imperative that governments take the necessary action to protect their wildlife, as elephants, rhinos, cheetahs--you name it--are not renewable resources.


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