- Ivory and rhino horn prices have soared on scarcity and a speculative boom in China
- Trade prohibitions may end up encouraging poaching by driving up prices
- Namibia may show better response through communal ownership and regulated trade
- Prohibitionists, led by Kenya and U.S., appear to have upper hand
Poaching of elephants and rhinos in Africa has intensified in recent years. Less than half a million elephants are left in Africa, an estimated 61 percent fewer than in 1980. The flip side of this ecological tragedy is the multibillion-dollar business that poaching has created for criminal organizations and terrorist groups.
According to one study by the NGO Elephant Action League, elephant poaching in Kenya and related trafficking may provide up to 40 percent of the funding for al-Shabaab’s fighters in Somalia. Other terrorist groups that rely on such income include Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, the Mai-Mai in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Janjaweed in Sudan.
In this light, poaching becomes a geopolitical threat. There is no doubt that an international response is required.