Rebels in DRC may be shooting elephants

2014-05-14 19:47
Ugandan soldiers patrol through the central African jungle during an operation to fish out notorious Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony. (Stringer,AFP)

Ugandan soldiers patrol through the central African jungle during an operation to fish out notorious Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony. (Stringer,AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kinshasa - A sharp rise in elephant poaching in a remote park in Democratic Republic of Congo has conservation groups asking if the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is hunting the protected animals in its stronghold there.

Thirty-three elephants have been killed in Congo's Garamba National Park in the past five weeks, including 10 poached last Friday, according to African Parks, a conservation group that manages the park along with Congolese authorities.

Park rangers killed three poachers in a weekend gunbattle in Garamba, in Congo's northeastern corner near South Sudan.

"We have reason to believe that the major poaching thrust is emanating from the heavily forested Azande Domaine de Chasse [which] has been a traditional base for the LRA," African Parks CEO Peter Fearnhead wrote in a letter to conservation partners that Reuters obtained on Wednesday.

Warlord Joseph Kony, the LRA leader indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, waged a brutal guerilla war against the Ugandan government in the north of the country for nearly two decades before fleeing with his fighters into the jungles of Central Africa around 2005.

A 2013 report from human rights group Enough Project said the LRA had begun systematically killing elephants and trading poached ivory for food, weapons, ammunition and other supplies.

Fearnhead wrote it was not yet clear "whether the current poaching onslaught emanates from the LRA, Sudanese poaching gangs, local Congolese poachers, or a combination of these."

Militarised

Garamba is home to around 1 800 elephants, according to African Parks, and has been targeted by poachers in the past.

Twenty-two elephants were killed and their tusks and genitals removed in a single 2012 attack suspected of being carried out by the LRA.

However, the rebels' involvement in the killings was never confirmed and some harbour doubts that the LRA is behind the latest wave of poaching.

"We hear the elephants were killed by professional poachers. That is not the LRA," said Rev Benoit Kinalegu, a Catholic priest who heads a network monitoring LRA attacks and movements from the town of Dungu on the edge of the Garamba park.

"This area is so militarised it is impossible to know who it was," he said.

A 5 000-strong African Union Regional Task Force, supported by 100 US Special Forces, is hunting for Kony and his commanders, who are accused of abducting thousands of children to use as fighters in a rebel army that has earned a reputation for mutilating its victims.

While Kony is believed to be hiding in a Sudanese-controlled area of a disputed enclave in South Sudan, according to the United Nations, his fighters continue to operate in an isolated zone straddling South Sudan, Congo and Central African Republic.

Read more on:    lra  |  joseph kony  |  democratic republic of congo  |  poaching  |  conservation  |  central africa  |  animals

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
6 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.