UN targets wildlife traders in Africa sanctions

2014-01-31 12:04
Kenyan officials display some of more than 1 600 pieces of illegal ivory found hidden inside bags of sesame seeds in freight travelling from Uganda, in Kenya's major port city of Mombasa. (File, AP)

Kenyan officials display some of more than 1 600 pieces of illegal ivory found hidden inside bags of sesame seeds in freight travelling from Uganda, in Kenya's major port city of Mombasa. (File, AP)

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

kalahari.com

United Nations - The UN Security Council has targeted illegal wildlife traffickers for sanctions in a pair of resolutions against African armed groups, a step conservationists called unprecedented and a major shift on a problem that has morphed from an environmental issue into a security threat.

A resolution that renewed an arms embargo, travel bans and asset freezes against armed groups in Congo included individuals who support those groups "through illicit trade of natural resources, including gold or wildlife as well as wildlife products".

The Security Council approved the resolution on Thursday, two days after including similar language in a sanctions regime imposed on armed groups in the Central African Republic.

The conservation group WWF said the resolutions "represent the first times that the UN Security Council has specifically named illicit trade of wildlife and wildlife products in sanctions regimes".

The move follows years of warnings from advocates and UN officials that wildlife trafficking, particularly elephant ivory, has increasingly become a source of financing for armed groups.

"It's a huge step forward," said Wendy Elliott, WWF species programme manager. Wildlife traffickers "are funding the armed groups that are causing the human rights violations, but it is still treated as an environmental issue and that is just not going to work out."

‘Lucrative business’

Britain, which will host a summit on illicit wildlife trafficking next month, applauded the Security Council for approving a "sanctions regime which includes targeting those who fuel instability by illegally exploiting wildlife".

"This provides us with another avenue to protect vulnerable species and cut off support to criminal and armed groups," said Iona Thomas, a British government spokesperson.

US Ambassador Samantha Power said, "In recent years wildlife trafficking has become a lucrative business and a source for conflict, so it's a sign of progress that the Security Council recognises the link between stopping poaching and advancing peace."

Thursday's Security Council resolution also stressed the importance of preventing M23 rebels from regrouping in Congo. M23 launched a rebellion in April 2012, becoming the latest reincarnation of a Tutsi rebel group dissatisfied with the Congolese government.

Earlier this month, the top UN envoy in Congo said there were "credible reports" that the rebels were resuming activities despite its military defeat and a peace agreement with the Congolese government last month.

The Congo conflict is a spill over from the 1994 genocide in neighbouring Rwanda.

A heated argument erupted between Congo and Rwanda during the Security Council meeting, with their ambassadors trading insults over allegations that each country is supporting rival armed groups.

Slaughter of elephants

A UN experts report released last week said there was "credible information" that M23 rebels were recruiting inside Rwanda.

The Security Council resolution expressed concern about reports that Congolese soldiers are aiding the FDLR, another rebel group which was formed by extremist Hutus from Rwanda who took part in that country's 1994 genocide and then fled across the border.

Rwandan Ambassador Eugene Gasana dismissed the experts' report as baseless. Congolese Ambassador Gata Mavita demanded that UN officials provide evidence of Congolese army support for the FDLR.

In their report, the UN experts said the slaughter of elephants in Congo "is one of the most tragic consequences of years of war and poor governance".

In Garamba National Park, a census showed fewer than 2 000 elephants were left in 2012, compared to 22 000 in the 1960s.

The report said the Lord's Resistance Army - which originated in Uganda and has waged one of Africa's most brutal rebellions - maintains bases in the park and has engaged in fire fights with park rangers, including a shooting in May 2013 that left two girls dead.

The report said that another armed group, Mai Mai Morgan, is "infamous for poaching elephants in the Okapi Fauna Reserve," though its focus in 2013 shifted toward attacking gold mines.

Implementation

In a report last year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there were signs that the illegal trade in elephant ivory constitutes an important source of funding for armed groups including the LRA, whose fighters moved into Congo, South Sudan and Central Africa Republic after Ugandan troops flushed them out of their country.

Ban said some African governments are using the army as well as police and paramilitary forces to hunt down poachers. He said poachers are using more sophisticated and powerful weapons, including some that may have originated from the fallout of the uprising in Libya that ousted Muammar Gaddafi.

Conservationists say a thriving ivory trade market in Asia is helping fuel the worst poaching epidemic of African elephants in decades. According to the WWF, over 20 000 elephants are killed each year for their ivory tusks, many of them in Central Africa conflict zones.

Elliot, of the WWF, said one challenge in implementing the sanctions will be proving the connection between poachers, traffickers and armed groups.

"There are a lot of wildlife traffickers who are not providing funding to armed groups," she said. "I imagine that establishing the connection is a challenge but it can be done and has been done effectively before."

- AP

Read more on:    un  |  wwf  |  fdlr  |  m23  |  ban ki-moon  |  muammar gaddafi  |  poaching
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

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
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Tuesday Mitchells Plain - 12:21 PM
    Road name: Eisleben Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Hermes way
  • Tuesday Kuils River - 11:51 AM
    Road name: Polkadraai Road Eastbound
    ROADWORKS between the R102 Van Riebeeck Road and the R310 Baden Powell Drive exit - expect delays
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

40% off appliances & homeware

Get mind blowing deals on top selling appliances and homeware. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Lenovo A1000 tablet now R999!

Get the Lenovo A1000 tablet for only R999! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

New gobii smartphones from R999!

Front and rear camera's, dual SIM capability and 200MB of FREE Cell C data every month for 12 months, are just some of the many features on these smartphones. Get yours now! Shop here.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Apple iPad 2 White 16GB 9.7" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Two cameras for FaceTime and HD video recording. The dual-core...

From R4300.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It may be hard to avoid an argument or heated conversation today. Someone may be stirring things up and testing your patience. ...read more

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.