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Fight against terrorism: an opportunity for species protection?

Fight against terrorism: an opportunity for species protection?

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Illegal poaching threatens the populations of species that are already at risk. The fact that part of the profits made even go to the financing of international militias and terrorist groups gives the subject a dramatic addition. Time to act. Rhinos: One kilo of their horn brings around 60,000 euros on the black market - Image: Shutterstock / Neil Bradfield

The illegal hunt for elephants, rhinos and the like is no longer a secret. The impact of many measures against these hostile machinations has so far been low. As perfidious as it sounds, international terrorism in particular could now indirectly ensure greater animal welfare. Because a study commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) brings new insights into the consequences of poaching.

According to this, poachers would pass on parts of their profits to channels that in turn finance terrorist organizations. The discovery of these relationships then also alarmed the affected countries in Asia and Africa. And in the West, too, with this knowledge, the issue has moved onto the agenda: "In the United States, this issue has now become a matter of national security," explains Carlos Drews, director of the WWF Global Species Program.

Poaching in fourth place among the most lucrative crimes

The WWF puts the income from illegal business with protected natural goods at almost 15 billion euros per year. The sale of animal products thus ranks fourth among the most lucrative crimes behind the trade in drugs, weapons and counterfeit goods. So it's a lot of money that shouldn't get into the wrong hands. The sufferers are initially creatures like tigers, elephants and rhinos, for whose aesthetic skins or ivory are paid horrendous prices on the black market. A kilo of rhino ivory alone brings up to 60,000 euros on the black market, a single elephant tusk up to 190,000 euros.

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How smuggling works in practice

The smuggling can be exemplified as follows: In Kenya, which is rich in species, poachers go on illegal hunt. The captured ivory then crosses the border into the guerrilla controlled port of Kismaju in neighboring Somalia. From there, the natural goods reach the international sales markets. Part of the profit will then go to the terrorist Shabab militia, for example, which is fighting Somali state power. And so every year in Africa alone, 30,000 elephants die, not least for terrorist purposes. In South Africa, rhinoceros hunting increased by 30 percent between 2011 and 2012. According to a "Spiegel" report, guards from the national parks of rhinos in Kenya are temporarily cutting off the horns to protect the animals from poachers.

March 2013: Conference for animals in Bangkok

A conference on this issue will take place in Bangkok, Thailand next March. The aim is to find solutions to prevent the international smuggling of animal products. Organizations such as the WWF are pushing for tighter measures against illegal poaching: "We are tired of waiting. We lose both our patience and our animals," says Drews.

From the point of view of animal rights activists, this development is very welcome on the one hand, because less smuggling means greater protection for the endangered animal species. It is disappointing to note that illegal poaching first had to be linked to international security in order to be an active party to the animals.

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  2. Nathanial

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  3. Drudwyn

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