By Kara Moses
The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is using lucrative elephant poaching for ivory to fund its activities, according to a report published on Tuesday.
Eyewitness accounts from park rangers, Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) escapees and recent senior defectors report that the fugitive warlord Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the international criminal court for war crimes and crimes against humanity, ordered African forest elephants to be killed in Garamba national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the tusks sent to him.
The defectors said that the LRA transports ivory from the DRC to the Central African Republic (CAR), where it is traded with Arab businessmen and officers from the Sudanese armed forces for cash, food, guns, ammunition and medical supplies.
"With ivory prices at record-high levels, trading illegal ivory offers the LRA another way to sustain itself in addition to its habitual pillaging," says the report, by the Enough Project, The Resolve, Invisible Children and the Satellite Sentinel Project.
"In recent years, the poaching of African elephants has reached record levels, with IUCN estimates of the global illegal ivory trade more than doubling since 2007. Raw ivory is said to fetch a price of more than $1,300 per pound due to a sharp rise in demand from Asia, particularly among consumers in China and Thailand."
According to study co-author Jonathan Hutson, the LRA is not the only armed group poaching elephants in central Africa. Garamba park rangers suspect groups from Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda are also involved. Sudanese poachers were responsible for the recent mass slaughter of 26 elephants at world heritage Dzanga-Ndoki national park in the CAR. Hutson says strong evidence ties regional poaching by Darfur-based janjaweed militia groups to Sudan's army and Central Reserve police. More....