NEW YORK – The United Nations Security Council will be briefed on Wednesday on the severe and escalating threat to peace and security posed by Central Africa’s heavily-armed elephant poaching gangs. A threat that has become a reality, and that is wiping out populations of forest elephants in virgin forests that were once pristine elephant sanctuaries, says World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
In a report to the world’s highest international security body, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says, “Poaching and its potential linkages to other criminal, even terrorist, activities constitute a grave menace to sustainable peace and security in Central Africa.”
The Secretary-General’s report highlights increasing links between elephant poaching, weapons proliferation and regional insecurity. “Illegal ivory trade may currently constitute an important source of funding for armed groups,” the report says. “Also of concern is that poachers are using more and more sophisticated and powerful weapons, some of which, it is believed, might be originating from the fallout in Libya.”
“The Secretary General’s report affirms that illegal wildlife trade is robbing the world of elephants, stealing the wealth of African nations and creating an international security threat,” said Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund. “It’s imperative that we act. It’s time we eliminated cross-border poaching of African elephants so that this horrific reality becomes a tale of the past.”
Report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa and on the Lord’s Resistance Army-affected areas was made available in advance of a dedicated Security Council session to be held at UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday morning.
The report references a steep decline in Central African elephant populations over the past decade and observes that multiple mass slaughters of the animals have been reported in protected areas in recent months. Poachers seeking ivory are believed to be responsible for elephant massacres in Chad, Cameroon, Gabon and Central African Republic.
“The situation has become so serious,” Ban writes, that national military responses have become necessary “to hunt down poachers.” The Secretary-General urges Central African governments to respond to the major national and regional security concerns posed by poaching through “concerted and coordinated action.”
WWF urges the governments of Central Africa to strengthen enforcement and criminal justice responses to wildlife crime and to address the linkages between it and other international crimes.
WWF Director General Jim Leape on Wednesday will join Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba and African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka to examine the threat of illicit wildlife trafficking to sustainable economic development in Africa. The discussion will take place as part of the African Development Bank’s annual meetings in Marrakech, Morocco and is expected to be attended by government and institutional officials from across the continent.