By Penny Tilton
America's intelligence community was ordered to track poachers in Africa and Asia on Thursday as part of a new global drive against the illegal trade in elephant tusks and rhino horn.
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent for the Guardian reported, in a further sign of US commitment, Hillary Clinton said she and Barack Obama plan to talk about trafficking of endangered animals at the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Phnom Penh next week.
“Over the last few years, heavily armed trafficking gangs were overwhelming local authorities, terrorizing village communities and increasingly posed a security threat,” Clinton said.
"It is one thing to be worried about the traditional poachers who come in and kill and take a few animals, a few tusks, a few horns, or other animal parts," Clinton told conservationists. "It's something else when you've got helicopters, night vision goggles, automatic weapons, which pose a threat to human life as well as wildlife."
“Poachers were crossing national borders at will, stoking concerns among US security officials that the conduits used by the traffickers in Asia and Africa to get their goods to market could also be used to smuggle drugs or arms for terrorist organizations. There is already some evidence to support that connection,” conservationists said.
Clinton's directive, for a study looking directly at the impact on US national security from trafficking operations, could prove critical to stamping out the cruel and illegal practices of killing endangered rhinos for their horns or elephants for their tusks. More....