In Africa, Elephants Dying in Epic Frenzy as Ivory Fuels Wars and Profits

Africa is in the midst of an epic elephant slaughter. Conservation groups say poachers are wiping out tens of thousands of elephants a year, more than at any time in the previous two decades, with the underground ivory trade becoming increasingly militarized.

Like blood diamonds from Sierra Leone or plundered minerals from Congo, ivory, it seems, is the latest conflict resource in Africa, dragged out of remote battle zones, easily converted into cash and now fueling conflicts across the continent.

Some of Africa’s most notorious armed groups, including the Lord’s Resistance Army, the Shabab and Darfur’s janjaweed, are hunting down elephants and using the tusks to buy weapons and sustain their mayhem. Organized crime syndicates are linking up with them to move the ivory around the world, exploiting turbulent states, porous borders and corrupt officials from sub-Saharan Africa to China, law enforcement officials say.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Animals, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Republic of Congo, Theology

3 comments on “In Africa, Elephants Dying in Epic Frenzy as Ivory Fuels Wars and Profits

  1. Teatime2 says:

    This is so tragic. Once elephants, whales, sharks, and everything else that’s being over-hunted is gone, will those who caused their demise lament and wake up? Probably not.

  2. upnorfjoel says:

    “It’s like the drug war,” he said later. “If people keep buying and paying for ivory, it’s impossible to stop it.”
    That is the key. Until the market for ivory collapses there will be no end to it. Africans are doing what it takes to survive, or finance their wars, and in that sense, it is easier to understand the African mind set, than that of a Chinese guy who has a little disposable income and needs a necklace.

  3. Teatime2 says:

    #2 — I would buy that argument if, as in many decades past, Africa remained an isolated place with little contact from the outside world. But so many trusts and organizations have worked hard to show and convince Africans how far more can be gained by protecting the animals and habitat. Jane Goodall’s organizations among others have set up eco-tourism, developed products and markets, and showed them ways in which more money can be made in sustainable endeavors. Once the elephants are gone, there will be no more money from ivory. The herds are dwindling.

    Moreover, indigenous poulations have generally made good use of the animals that are killed. Not in this case. These awesome creatures are felled, their tusks are removed, the rest of the body is left. It’s horribly wasteful.