By Edith M. Lederer
The illegal trade in elephant ivory may constitute an important source of funding for armed groups, including the Lord's Resistance Army, threatening peace and security in central Africa, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report to the Security Council.
In a report obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, Ban said that the situation has become so serious in some countries that governments are already using the army as well as police and paramilitary forces to hunt down poachers.
"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 said, urging affected governments to consider poaching a major national and regional concern requiring concerted action.
Ban pointed to the slaughter of more than 11,000 elephants in a park in northeastern Gabon between 2004 and 2013, more than 300 elephants killed in one area of a park in Cameroon in the last two months of 2012, and 86 elephants — including 33 pregnant females — slaughtered in a week in March 2013.
Ban said poachers are using more sophisticated and powerful weapons, "some of which, it is believed, might be originating from the fallout in Libya" following the uprising that ousted longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
The report said the growing instability was apparent in the Central African Republic where rebel groups united to oust longtime president Francois Bozize in March. Since then, the rebels have been accused of employing sexual violence, killing civilians and rampant looting. More....