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.
[I\n 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 top 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. More....