African terrorist groups are poaching wild animals to finance their operations, purchase weapons and acquire other military supplies, an environmental organisation has said.
Elephant Action League said on Saturday that the horns of rhinoceros and the ivory extracted from elephants' tusks are sold in the black market at a higher price than gold or cocaine in some Asian regions, reports Prensa Latina.
An investigation by the league, titled as 'The White Gold of Jihad', says that 40 per cent of the illegal funds administered by terrorist groups such as Al-Shabaab comes from poaching animals in African forests.
This illegal trade is profitable in areas where law-enforcement forces are weak or there is administrative corruption, and in zones where forest rangers lack the necessary technical resources, a spokesperson for the Elephant Action League said.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for an attack in September at the Westgate shopping complex, in Nairobi, Kenya. The terror operation lasted three days and claimed 72 lives besides leaving 200 people injured.
In countries like Sierra Leone and Senegal, rampant poaching by terrorist groups and criminal gangs have brought some animal species to the brink of extinction, according to the league.
Nearly 30,000 elephants were killed last year in Africa. In Kenya alone, the population of those animals decreased from 167,000 to 35,000.
At least 825 rhinoceros have been poached in South Africa so far this year, but countries like Malawi, Zimbabwe, Angola, Swaziland, Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia were also affected by poaching.
The ports of Mombasa in Kenya, and Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania are the main points from where rhinoceros horns and elephant tusks are shipped to Asian countries.