Rhino and elephant poaching is detrimental not only to the rhino and elephant, but to global security. Poaching profits fund terrorist activity, like the kidnapping of over 200 girls in Nigeria.
On April 16, armed men took 223 girls from their beds in the middle of the night at their school in Nigeria. They disappeared into the dense forest near the Cameroon border, and have not been seen since. Boko Haram is the Islamic extremist group responsible. They especially oppose the education of women, and it is believed the militants are selling the girls to be brides of their tormentors.
The Nigerian based Islamic extremist group fights with advanced weaponry and equipment, which is in high contrast with the poor surroundings of the country. Their funding is vast and somewhat unknown. In part, they may be receiving funding from other terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, they also reap benefits from robberies, and poachings.
Boka Haram poaching activity is connected to both rhinos and elephants and spans Cameroon, Somalia and Zimbabwe.
In addition to Al-Quaeda, they are linked to the Somali group, Al-Shabaab, who claimed responsiblity for the Westgate mall attack in Nairobi in 2013. A major portion of that groups’ activities are reportedly funded by poaching as well. Claims are that up to three tons of ivory are bought and sold every month through a coordinated supply chain.
Andrea Crosta, executive director of the Elephant Action League (EAL), has studied Al-Shabaab activity and states that the group makes enough through ivory to support around 40 per cent of the salaries paid to militants.
“The survival of protected wildlife species such as elephants, rhinos, great apes, tigers, sharks, tuna, and turtles has beneficial economic, social, and environmental impacts that are important to all nations,” it reads. “Wildlife trafficking reduces those benefits while generating billions of dollars in illicit revenues each year, contributing to the illegal economy, fueling instability, and undermining security.”
One of the methods governments utilize to defuse terrorist organizations, is through tracking their funding. Knowing they are using the wildlife to fund themselves should be reason enough to enact tougher tracking and penalties for poaching. Obviously stopping poaching will not put an end to terrorism, but it would stop enabling them, making it more difficult for them to carry out their inhumane activities.
In the meantime, there are hundreds of families in Nigeria desperately awaiting news on their daughter’s lives. Peace and prayers go with them.
Please sign the petition to draw attention and action to the kidnapped girls: Bring Back Our Girls
(*African Daily News, Huffington Post, The Washington Times)