Elephant tusks-Tyler-Hicks-NYTimes

An article called “Elephants Dying in Epic Frenzy as Ivory Fuels Wars” appeared on the homepage of the New York Times website yesterday. It is a long-ish article with unsettling statistics, stories, and photos of elephants that have been killed and had their tusks hacked off. All for the ivory.

We’re especially interested in this article for what it tells us about current LRA activities.

The New York Times reports that the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and many other groups have been taking advantage of the lucrative ivory trade by killing elephants and then selling the tusks. There are also suspicions that the Ugandan military (UPDF) and the Congolese military (FARDC) could be involved in the ivory trade, which is one reason there needs to be increased accountability in the region – especially when foreign military aid is involved.

For several months our partners at Resolve have been highlighting evidence that LRA groups are poaching for ivory, as did our most recent LRA Crisis Tracker report. Most of the reports come from park rangers in Garamba National Park in northeastern Congo, which has been something of a safe haven for LRA groups since 2005.

It’s important that regional governments and international leaders make serious efforts to work together to stop LRA atrocities like this week’s mass abduction. This is especially important if the rebel group has found a revenue source in ivory.

Quick bits:

  • According to the New York Times, people who have escaped from the LRA have testified to at least 39 elephants being killed by LRA forces
  • Escapees say that the LRA has orders to send the ivory directly to Joseph Kony
  • A commercial ivory retailer in Omdurman, Sudan, claims that the LRA trades ivory for weapons