Wildlife Poaching Threatens Economic, Security Priorities in Africa   [open pdf - 42KB]

"Increased demand for ivory and rhino horn in Asia stems from a rapidly expanding wealthy class that views both commodities as luxury goods that enhance social status as well as a growing number of ready buyers within Africa who serve as dealers to clients in Asia. Increased demand for ivory and rhino horn triggered rapid upticks in poaching in Africa in 2011 and 2012, with similar trends predicted for 2013. Criminal elements of all kinds, including some terrorist entities and rogue security personnel, often in collusion with government officials in source countries are involved in poaching and movement of ivory and rhino horn across east, central, and southern Africa. We assess with high confidence that traffickers use sophisticated networks and the complicity of public officials in order to move ivory and rhino horn from relatively remote areas to markets and ports of export, perpetuating corruption and border insecurity in key eastern, central and southern African states. We judge some of these networks probably are the same or overlap with those of other illicit goods such as drugs and weapons. Poaching presents significant security challenges for militaries and police forces in African nations (e.g. Kenya, Tanzania, Congo-Kinshasa, South Africa, and others), which are often outgunned by poachers and their criminal and extremist allies. Corruption and lack of sufficient penal and financial deterrents are hampering these governments' abilities to reduce poaching and trafficking. Material and training, legal, and diplomatic support probably could have a significant impact on the trajectory of the illicit rhino horn and ivory trades, and would also represent a relatively cost-effective way to gain new insights into the behavior of implicated criminal groups and associated trafficking networks. However, the widespread complicity of military and government officials in the trade hinders potential partnerships."

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