Joseph Kony has commanded his Lord’s Resistance Army soldiers to kill elephants in Central African forests, a new study has revealed. The LRA Crisis Tracker 2012 Annual Security Brief says LRA escapees have reported witnessing rebels shoot elephants and remove their tusks at Kony’s demand. Individuals that have escaped abduction by the LRA also say that unknown persons arriving by helicopter to remote locations have provided rations in exchange for ivory.
“The LRA has been responsible for some of the most egregious violations of human rights in Central Africa. Now Kony and his rebels appear to be engaging in elephant poaching and ivory smuggling to sustain their terrorist operations. The security implications of illegal wildlife trade extend far beyond conservation. It is a national security issue and a threat to human life,” said Bas Huijbregts, head of policy engagement for WWF in Central Africa.
Last month the United Nations Security Council requested an investigation into LRA’s sources of funding, including elephant poaching and ivory smuggling. The move came just after a briefing of UN ambassadors by WWF and TRAFFIC experts highlighting the national security threat posed by wildlife crime.
Poaching of elephants has reached crisis levels in Central Africa, largely due to demand for ivory products in Asian markets such as China and Thailand. Through a global petition, WWF and our supporters are calling on the Thai prime minister to ban ivory trade in the country.