By Laurence Caramel
The massacre of elephants has gone beyond being a problem for animal rights activists. It now concerns international institutions and governments at the highest level because it is perceived as a threat to political and economic stability in central Africa.Last month, the matter drew the attention of the African Development Bank in Marrakech, at an annual assembly that was also attended by African finance ministers. The bank's president, the Rwandan economist Donald Kaberuka, presented a global action plan addressing the problem along with the World Wildlife Fund.
"This is not just an environmental problem," according to the bank's Marrakech Declaration. "The violence and damage now threaten peace and the rule of law, as well as the revenue many African countries earn from tourism and other wildlife uses; some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities suffer ... wildlife trafficking thwarts governments' efforts to stop other illicit trades, such as arms and drugs. It fuels organised crime and corruption, and compromises regional security."
Kaberuka asked the finance ministers at the meeting to strengthen customs controls as a first step, saying these were key to dismantling smuggling networks.
The matter has also reached the UN. Last month, the UN secretary general presented a report to the security council on concerns about the links between poaching and the "criminal or even terrorist networks threatening the stability of central Africa". The most vulnerable countries were said to be Cameroon, which has deployed army patrols in its northern national parks, the Central African Republic, Chad and Gabon. More....