By Suzanne Goldenberg
The United Nations security council will be briefed for the first time on Wednesday about the "grave menace" posed by heavily armed and highly sophisticated gangs of wildlife traffickers in central Africa.
A report to the council from UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon raises concerns to the highest levels of international diplomacy that the growing slaughter of endangered elephants, rhinos, tigers and other species now threatens the security of an entire region.
The secretary general, in his report at the council meeting in New York on Wednesday morning, will urge the governments of central Africa to recognise the explosion of the illegal trade as a direct threat to national and regional security.
"Poaching and its potential linkages to other criminal, even terrorist, activities constitute a grave menace to sustainable peace and security in Central Africa," Ban says in the report, which was released to journalists early.
"I urge governments of the sub-region to consider the issue of poaching as a major national and sub-regional security concern requiring their concerted and coordinated action."
Ban goes on to warn that armed rebel groups, including the Lord's Resistance Army, were using the ivory trade to buy arms and that some of those weapons might be coming from Libya.
"Illegal ivory trade may currently constitute an important source of funding for armed groups," the council will be told.
"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." More....