Poaching of elephants for their ivory is a "grave menace" to peace and security in central Africa, the United Nations Security Council has been warned.
The illegal ivory trade may be an important source of funding for armed groups such as the Lord's Resistance Army, a militant group which continues to terrorise the region, said a report by the UN secretary general to the Security Council.
Poachers are also using increasingly sophisticated and powerful weapons, some of which are thought to have come from Libya in the wake of the conflict there, the report to the global security body on the wider situation in central Africa warned.
Conservationists backed the report's findings, warning of the "devastating impact" of the armed gangs which target elephants for their ivory, a sought-after product in China. The report said Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad and Gabon in particular are facing the problem of poaching by armed gangs.
In the decade to 2013, more than 11,000 elephants were slaughtered in the Minkebe Park area alone in north-eastern Gabon, while in March this year 86 elephants including 33 pregnant females were killed within a week in Chad. In Cameroon, 300 elephants were killed in the northern area of Bouba Ndjida National Park in the last two months of 2012, the report to the Security Council reports. More....