According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and others, 60,000 elephants and more than 1,600 rhinos have been slaughtered by poachers and about a thousand park rangers have died in the past decade defending the animals. This article by the Washington Post highlights the poaching of endangered elephants and rhinos as a conservation crisis that is easy money for terrorists. The profits from these wildlife crimes are funding terrorist organizations and is creating a new threat in the terrorist hotbed of Africa.
Illegal wildlife trade generates an estimated $19 billion a year and apparently, the U.S. military can do much more to combat it. The article said that “Top U.S. defense officials should routinely discuss wildlife trafficking in meetings with African military leaders. The U.S. military’s post-Afghanistan plans must explicitly include poaching in Africa and illegal trafficking of wildlife as new “fronts” in the war on terror….[And] finally, private-sector security and technology companies should be encouraged to work with African governments to deploy sensors, radars, unmanned aerial vehicles, satellites and other sophisticated data-gathering and detection systems.”
Drawing on these recommendations, it seems that “security technology, military capacity and market incentives” have the power and ability to defeat terrorists and save wildlife in Africa.
A recent article by the New Zealand Herald reported that Nigeria’s geography teachers are among the most threatened people in the country. These assassination threats come from Boko Haram, the terrorist group already well-known for their interference with the education system in the country. Both geography and science educators teach that the earth is spherical, which conflicts with Boko Haram’s belief that the earth is a flat surface.
“The threats to geographers are outlined in an extensive new report by Human Rights Watch, which lays bare the devastating impact wreaked by Boko Haram on Nigeria’s school system. It says that a total of 600 school staff have been murdered by Boko Haram since 2009, and that 19,000 have quit their jobs due to threats and attacks” (Freeman, NZHerald).
Boko Haram has already been linked to illegal wildlife poaching in the area. The group funds their efforts through the sale of illegal products, such as ivory from elephants and rhinoceroses.
Read the full article here: Geography Teachers Top of Boko Haram’s Hit List
Wildlife Trade and Global Terrorism
In this article brought to us by United Nations University, author Hannah McNeish wrote that according to a report by the United Nations and Interpol, “Illegal wildlife trade worth up to $213 billion dollars a year is funding organized crime, including global terror groups and militias.”
Ivory-trade has been documented to create a $400 million/year revenue that trickles to militias in East, Central and West Africa; illegal logging trade creates $100 billion in revenue that supports mafias, Islamist extremists and rebel movements; and African governments are losing at least $1.9 billion a year from charcoal to the benefit of criminals, including Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked terror group al-Shabaab, earning up to $9 billion.
According to UNEP cheif Achim Steiner, these funds enable people to buy arms and put civil strife and conflict as parts of a transnational net world that operates across the globe. He said, “We can catch as many foot soldiers as we want. If we don’t address the kingpins of illegal trade and wildlife crime, we won’t stop it.”
Peace and Poaching?
A recent article by Quartz Africa points to, “progress toward peace” (Patinkin, Quartz Africa) as a cause for higher rates of animal poaching in South Sudan. As the government and rebel forces begin to come together, there is increasingly less work for soldiers. Without a steady income, more and more soldiers and civilians are seeking bushmeat (antelopes) for eating as well as ivory (elephants) for money, the article states.
This proves what a highly complex issue illegal poaching continues to be.
“South Africa has by far the largest population of rhinos in the world and is an incredibly important country for rhino conservation. However rhino poaching levels have dramatically escalated over recent years. The below graph shows the exponential increase in poaching from 2007 – 2015. ” What is causing this? Who might be responsible? What can we do to reduce these numbers?
The Atlas of Global Conservation- % Habitat Loss
It seems more than half of the world has lost over 30% of their habitats. How might we prevent this from increasing as human population and rates of urbanization continue to grow? What steps can we take to prevent the destruction of the worlds natural habitats while still accommodating human needs such as food, water, and shelter?