BREAK THE LINK BETWEEN TERRORISM FUNDING AND POACHING

Discussion in 'News & Announcements' started by AFRICAN INDABA, Mar 28, 2014.

  1. AFRICAN INDABA

    AFRICAN INDABA CONTRIBUTOR AH Enthusiast

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    Johan Bergenas is deputy director of the Managing Across Boundaries Initiative at the Stimson Center, a nonprofit and nonpartisan think tank that studies peace and security challenges around the world. Monica Medina is a former special assistant to U.S. defense secretaries Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel.

    There is a new threat in the terrorist hotbed of Africa, and the U.S. military can do much more to combat it. Poaching of endangered elephants and rhinos has become a conservation crisis, and profits from wildlife crimes are filling the coffers of terrorist organizations. The twin crises should be cause for alarm for military leaders, not just conservation groups. They need to start working together before it is too late. In the past two years, about 60,000 elephants and more than 1,600 rhinos have been slaughtered by poachers, according to reports from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and others. About a thousand park rangers have died in the past decade defending the animals.

    Illegal wildlife trade generates an estimated $19 billion a year more than the illicit trafficking of small arms, diamonds, gold or oil. A July Congressional Research Service report found that a rhino horn is worth more than $50,000 per kilogram on the black market more than gold or platinum. Sadly, poaching elephants and rhinos in Africa is easy money for terrorists, and they are cashing in.

    One Elephant Action League undercover investigation in Kenya concluded that illegal ivory funds as much as 40 percent of the operations of al-Shabab, the group behind the November attack at a Nairobi shopping mall where 60 people were killed. The former director of the Kenyan Wildlife Service and the U.N. secretary general have drawn similar links between crime against wildlife and al-Shabab, al-Qaeda and the notorious Lord's Resistance Army.

    Last May, President Obama called for a new strategy to fight al-Qaeda and its affiliates. To be effective, these counterterrorism plans must engage not only African defense leaders but also conservation and development leaders. U.S. military plans for Africa should include ending elephant and rhino poaching to cut off a key source of funds for al-Qaeda and other terrorists. A high-level summit on wildlife crimes, organized by the British government, Prince Charles and Prince William, is scheduled to take place this month in London. It is the perfect place to call for a new partnership between the defense and conservation communities.

    As Obama's national security team plans its next steps, it can follow Hillary Clinton's lead. Before stepping down as secretary of state, Clinton commissioned an intelligence review of the impact of wildlife trafficking on national security. Completed last summer, the review prompted Obama to sign an executive order creating an interagency task force to develop an anti-poaching strategy. Due out this year, the strategy should include a greater military role in responding to this growing challenge.

    Last year Congress gave the Pentagon permission to combat the Lord's Resistance Army's poaching and human-trafficking activities. That authority should be expanded to cover all terrorist groups, including al-Shabab. Even without specific direction from Congress, the Defense Department and intelligence agencies should work with conservation groups to combat poaching, using new and inexpensive technologies to detect and deter terrorist activities and traffickers. Drones, satellite imagery, tracking devices and other high-tech tools could transform the fight to save elephants and rhinos, cheaply and effectively starving terrorists of the easy money they gain from wildlife crimes. Already, some African countries are asking for such tools.

    Top U.S. defense officials should routinely discuss wildlife trafficking in meetings with African military leaders. The U.S. military's post-Afghanistan plans must explicitly include poaching in Africa and illegal trafficking of wildlife as new "fronts" in the war on terror. Using technology to detect and deter poachers is a much less expensive way to fight terrorists than deploying Special Operations forces and less dangerous to U.S. troops.

    Finally, private-sector security and technology companies should be encouraged to work with African governments to deploy sensors, radars, unmanned aerial vehicles, satellites and other sophisticated data-gathering and detection systems. These types of defense technologies are needed to bolster borders, ports, roads, energy facilities and other economic infrastructure in Africa. Over the next few decades, the market for this infrastructure and societal security capacity is estimated to be at least $60 trillion, according to reports by McKinsey and others. By working now to protect African economic infrastructure, which includes endangered elephants and rhinos, technology companies could reap huge financial and public relations rewards.

    Security technology, military capacity and market incentives are all waiting to be deployed to defeat terrorists and save wildlife in Africa a huge potential win-win. Here's hoping that Prince Charles and Prince William use this month's summit to publicly call on military and industry leaders to join the fight to conserve rhinos and elephants.


    Authors: Johan Bergenas and Monica Medina The Washington Post
     
  2. adgunner

    adgunner SILVER SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Having seen first hand some of the LRAs handiwork, any and all means should be utilized to rid the world of these guys. Technology in some forms, tracking being one will definitely help, but nothing can replace boot leather, good intel and the will to act upon it. The canopy is pretty thick where these guys hide and drone usage as seen in Afghanistan does not produce nearly the same results.
     
  3. Jaco Strauss

    Jaco Strauss AH Elite

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    I believe Kruger is already using drone technology, so are several private ranches and reserves in the Waterberg..

    My best always
     
  4. adgunner

    adgunner SILVER SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Quite right Jaco, they are a very powerful tool and they do work, I was inferring to the use of technology as a replacement for troops and a cost saving measure, when in fact I would like to see these technologies as an addition/enabler.
     
  5. Jaco Strauss

    Jaco Strauss AH Elite

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    Ad they must be used to compliment each other, fully agreed at this point it is they're role... I love those damn things wish ours had guns on them or at least a big cannon...

    :)
     
  6. adgunner

    adgunner SILVER SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    I hear you Jaco, we use drones as the eyes for Artillery, fighter aircraft and attack helicopters .... pretty sure that might be a deterrent to the poaching problem :) :)
     
  7. bellero

    bellero AH Veteran

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    I'm a Canadian army serving member and I would love to be deployed to Africa. I almost went to Sierra Leone a few years ago but it got cancelled and they shipped us to Afghanistan instead.
     
  8. adgunner

    adgunner SILVER SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Bellero, there are a few spots into Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo (French speaking positions) .... unfortunately they are all with the UN, but I managed to get past this by reminding myself that my leave would be spent hunting somewhere in Africa:)
     
  9. bellero

    bellero AH Veteran

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    Thanks for the advice, I know there's a few observer positions all over Africa but I'm only a junior NCM (MCpl) and they are mostly officer positions. I think the only available tour for me would be El Gorah in Egypt.
     

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