By Mark Quarterman
The accelerating pace of the slaughter of elephants for their tusks has put African elephants at catastrophic risk in the coming decades. To make matters worse, some of the region's most notorious armed groups are taking tusks to finance their atrocities.
The Somali terrorists of al-Shabaab, the Sudanese government-supported janjaweed militia that has been responsible for much of the violence during the Darfur genocide, and the Lord's Resistance Army, which has kidnapped hundreds of boys and girls across central Africa to be fighters and sex slaves, are participating in this illegal trade.
These groups typically kill elephants using the automatic weapons that they also use to kill people. And as the militants become more involved in the poaching business, they apply the same lack of discrimination in killing elephants that they have demonstrated with their human victims. For example, poachers thought to be janjaweed from Sudan, working with Chadians, allegedly killed at least 86 elephants, including calves and 33 pregnant females, over the course of a week.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare found that at least 400 elephants were slaughtered between January and March 2012 at the Bouba Ndjida National Park in Cameroon. Animal rights groups say poaching is worse than it's been in decades. They say it may be even worse than it was in the 1980s, before the international ban on ivory was put in place. More....