Every day, an estimated 96 elephants are killed throughout Africa; this amounts to nearly 230,000 in the last 5 years. It is unlikely that African elephants will survive if the slaughter continues.
The ivory trade is a devastating problem, and it also gives Joseph Kony’s forces the means to continue attacking innocent communities.
How the LRA is involved
The LRA has been poaching elephants since 2010, and the rebel group has used the ivory trade as a means to sustain itself and resupply. Witnesses say that the LRA trades tusks for much-needed resources such as food, weapons and ammunitions. It has even been reported that the LRA provides ivory to the Séléka rebel group in the Central African Republic (CAR) in return for these resources.
Former LRA combatants have reported that Kony ordered the killing of elephants to harvest their tusks. Between mid-April and June of this year, 68 elephants were killed and poached in Garamba National Park, where the LRA is the most active. The LRA gains vital resources through its participation in the illegal ivory trade, which is why we have been targeting groups in Garamba National Park with our defection messaging. (Go here to see our video about it)
Why central and East Africa?
The last few years have shown an unprecedented increase in the levels of poaching, illegal smuggling and trafficking because of a few factors. First, the poaching and trafficking of ivory is closely tied to the overall instability of the region. The dramatic increase of poaching is also due to the high demand for ivory, especially in Southeast Asian markets. In a report published in August 2014, The Center for Advanced Defense and Born Free USA exposed the increase in elephant poaching over the past few years.