Posts Tagged With: terrorism

Terrorists and the Rhino

With terrorism overshadowing our daily lives on a global level , it’s easy for the poaching epidemic to take a backseat on the list of top concerns. Yet, there is an undeniable link between the two.

For groups like Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda, *up to 40% of the organizational funding for weapons, training, basic supplies and operational costs; come from ivory.

terrorists

Getty Images

These groups are often the “middle men” along the chain of trade. Paying poachers less than $100 usd to do the dirty work, they gain approximately $2000/kilo in the sale of the ivory. Rhino horn is also a valued commodity for the terrorists, at a whopping $65000/kilo on the black market. An easy cash flow with little risk.

Stopping the actual poachers is meaningless, if others along the chain are not sought out. And in this case, stopping the middle men means ending the bloodshed for more than just rhinos and elephants.

victims of terrorism cartoon

*Investigation by  Nir Kalron (Founder & CEO of Maisha Consulting) and Andrea Crosta (Executive Director & Co-Founder of the Elephant Action League)

 

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Last Days for Rhinos and Elephants

This extraordinary video puts the killing of our elephants and rhinos into perspective. Ultimately it all starts or stops with YOU as the consumer. Please watch and share.

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Nigerian Kidnappings: The Link to Poaching

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.

funding terrorism

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.

boko harem by reuters

Boko Harem (by: Reuters)

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 issue of poaching is being recognized as a global threat. In 2013,  US President Obama took a strong stance on poaching, issuing an executive order to combat wildlife trafficking.obama

“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

where are our chibok girls

Nigerian women demonstration, looking for help to free the girls.

 

(*African Daily News, Huffington Post, The Washington Times)

 

 

 

 

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The Many Faces of Poaching

poacher arrested with bush meat

Poacher arrested with bush meat.

The Poacher:

The poor man living in a hut with a pregnant wife and 3 skeletal children. One perhaps with a tear running down a sunken cheek, the wife begging the husband to find them enough for a meal. Finally, in exasperation the man reluctantly sets off on a dangerous, one-time mission to take part in killing an elephant or rhino. The few dollars will feed his hungry family for a week (if he makes it back alive).

Is this what you imagine when you think of a poacher?

Think again. Although  poverty is one aspect of poaching and can be a reason, it does not account for all of it. In fact, wealth is the driving force behind the most  destructive killings: mainly  our elephants and rhinos.

There are two types of poachers:

1) Subsistence Poachers – they target small game, have low technology, and hunt for food.
2) Commercial Poachers – they operate with organized groups for rare animals (elephants/rhinos) and  utilize advanced technology.

game farmers in sa part of rhino poaching ring

S.A. Game farmers convicted in rhino poaching ring.

Individuals who poach in poor communities are doing it for one of two reasons. Either they need the meat, in which case it is usually smaller animals who typically do not have as much effect on the ecosystem, as it is usually less often. Or there is a wealthy source seeking parts from an animal, such as the ivory of elephants or horn of rhino, and this has a more devastating impact on the environment.  In the second case, obviously without the demand, there would be no poaching.

In 2012, the wildlife monitoring network Traffic, issued a report showing  a direct correlation between the rising income in Vietnam and the rising demand for ivory and horn. In addition as a use for “medicinal cures”, it has become the status symbol of the elite in Vietnamese society, used during business deals and social gatherings, the rhino horn is ground to a powder, mixed with water and drunk.

Chumlong Lemtongthai

Chumlong Lemtonthai, convicted rhino poaching ringleader

With horn and ivory worth their weight in gold, it is the prized commodity taken and sold by everyone who can get their filthy hands on it.

So while the rich business men are vying for ego boosts in Vietnam, there are poaching syndicates taking advantage and making this a business of their own. These syndicates are  equipped  above and beyond the occasional villager poaching for his family, they have militia training, equipment and resources at their disposal.

seleka rebels in CAR

Seleka rebels: The CAR president has ordered the dissolution of the group.

Some of these groups are involved with  organized terrorist groups such as Somalia’s Al-Shabab, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Darfur’s Janjaweed.  One group in Sudan, the  Séléka rebel coalition  is suspected of the 2013 mass slaughter of 26 elephants at the Dzanga-Ndoki national park in the CAR. The previous year, the same group was responsible for 300 elephant deaths.

In addition to subsistence and commercial poaching, in a 2013 study done by Evidence on Demand, the lines sometimes become blurred into what they term as a hybrid poacher.

For example: the rise in commercial hunting for bushmeat shows how traditional subsistence poaching has been transformed in response to the arrival of logging companies in remote forests where a workforce has to be fed. Likewise, the Chinese construction camps who allegedly seek ivory, and possibly bushmeat would fall into that category.

Sophistication, technology, and an expanding market  make for ambitious and deadly modern-day poachers. But poaching has no ethnicity, age or economic barriers. It is an equal opportunity evil in which the end is always the same. With 96 elephants and nearly 3 rhino a day being slaughtered, it hardly matters WHO is killing them, just that they are.

your greed my extinction

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Ivory Buyers Helped fund the Nairobi Massacre

posted by Kevin Heath of Wildlife News

The world has watched in horror as the scale of the Al-Shabaab attack on the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi unfolded. It was the latest – and largest – attack in the campaign by the terrorist group which has spread across Africa. Up to 40% of the funds that Al-Shabaab needs to undertake these terrorist attacks comes from ivory buyers and consumers.

While much press is targeted at the elephant poacher the reality is that they are there to meet the demands of a market. It is the consumer and buyer of ivory – whether for ornamental purposes or consumption in medicinal ‘cure’ – that creates the market and sends funds to the terrorist groups.

In an investigation in 2011, Nir Kalron (Founder & CEO of Maisha Consulting) and Andrea Crosta (Executive Director & Co-Founder of the Elephant Action League), discovered that 40% of funding to keep Al-Shabaab operational came from elephant poaching and ivory smuggling activities.  It’s not just ivory that the terrorist group is involved with, rhino horn is also a lucrative trade that helps them buy guns, ammunition and explosives.

Al-Shabaab in 2011 were earning between $200,000 and $600,000 a month from ivory sales which helps to pay their soldiers and terrorists a higher wage and better living conditions than rangers and soldiers of governments. With an estimated wage bill (in 2011) of $1.5 million a month ivory sales can contribute up to 40% of the organisations operational costs.

Following the recent announcement by the White House to boost its actions against poaching a hearing was held by the U.S. International Conservation Caucus. At that meeting Ian Saunders, founder of Tsavo Trust, revealed that the Al Qaeda attacks on the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salam during 1998 cost and estimated $50,000 – or the street value of less than 2 decent size elephant tusks.

In 2012 the estimated retail value of black-market ivory was about $1800 a kilogramme. With adult elephant tusks weighing up to 50kg or even 70kg the rewards for Al-Shabaab are high. The profits are so high because Al-Shabaab controls so much of the middle section of the supply chain. They pay poachers less than $100 for a pair of adult tusks.

Earlier this year the Kenya Wildlife Service announced that they had launched an investigation in to the scale of involvement of Al-Shabaab in poaching in Kenya.

Elgiva Bwire, who is currently in prison in Kenya for Al-Shabaab terrorist offences, has claimed that the  South Kitui Game Reserve and Kora National Reserve are major hide-outs for Al-Shabaab in Kenya. The parks have a long history of problems with poachers. Kora National Reserve was made a national park in 1989 following the murder of George Adamson and two colleagues by poachers.

The link between terrorism and ivory is now so strong that the term ‘blood ivory’ has been coined. Those who buy ivory now are actively supporting terrorism around the world and the murder of innocent people including children.

The former director of the Kenya Wildlife Service, Julius Kipng’etich, in March 2012 told the US Congressional Staff that Al-Shabaab was so involved in poaching that he asked people to stop wearing ivory based jewellery as doing so was effectively supporting groups such as Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda.

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The Elephant in Times Square

EVERY DAY…

*There are 100 elephants killed  for their meat and ivory.

* 2 rhino are killed for their horn (a lesser amount due to the lesser population). A rate that has increased an unimaginable 3,336% in 4 years!

Poaching is killing not just our animals, but our economies and through vast criminal networking-our people. Poaching is not just the deed taken on by the poor man, but terrorist groups, using the funds of the ivory and horn for their darker cause, making the illegal wildlife trade the fourth most lucrative global criminal activity.

This is a global issue needing IMMEDIATE attention from our people, and immediate action from our governments.

Therefore one of the biggest global issues of our time, concerning the biggest land mammal should have the biggest platform…Times Square in New York.

The advocacy group March for Elephants  envisioned a billboard in Times Square to bring an urgent call of action to the poaching crisis. The enormous digital billboard will be launched on Sept 29th and will run for a month at a frequency of once every 2 minutes, 24 hours a day. (Using imagery and art, it will feature the tragedy of extinction caused by greed and question if trinkets are worth the price.)

There is a campaign to raise $25,000 to fund this endeavor. Elephants NEED this exposure. Many people are not even aware they are in danger. If we can’t stop this, they will be gone in just 10 years.

Please go to THE ELEPHANT IN TIMES SQUARE to make a donation.

Watch here on Youtube: The Elephant in Times Square

elephant in times square

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