Our organisation is supported largely by people who love wildlife and nature and by some who appreciate that we fund poverty alleviation in areas prone to poaching. With the massive explosion of wildlife trafficking over the past few years, and increasing evidence that some of the profits are being used to fund activities of militant groups, it is vital that people who are concerned about national security in our developed ‘first world’ countries start to pay attention to this issue as well.
International law enforcement authorities have evidence that over 66,000 elephants and 1,600 rhinos have been slaughtered in the past two and a half years for their horns. Law enforcement is cracking down on this illegal trade and just last month 3.7 tons of ivory were confiscated in Singapore and tusks from over 600 elephants discovered by Thai authorities during the end of April. While this is progress, we need to have more resources in the field to prevent these killings in the first place.
Wildlife trafficking is carried out by highly organised syndicates of criminals which operate on an international level. The industry ranks among drug, arms and people trafficking in terms of profitability. Elephant poaching has been used to fund terrorist groups such as Al-Shabaab, which has ties to Al-Qaeda and claimed responsibility for the massacre of 67 people at a Kenyan mall in 2013. Al-Shabaab has been responsible for thousands of other murders; just google them if you’d like to get the complete picture.
So in addition to loosing entire species of animals and destroying the environment, we are faced with the reality that the illegal wildlife trade threatens the national security of those of us here in Australia and other developed, first world countries. If the killing of wildlife and destruction of habitat doesn’t concern you, perhaps the idea of billions of dollars flowing to organised criminal networks will.