Libya war weapons may be killing central Africa elephants : UN

UNITED NATIONS Mon May 20, 2013 6:10pm EDT

The carcasses of some of the 22 elephant slaughtered in a helicopter-bourne attack lie on the ground in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Garamba National Park, in this undated handout picture released by the DRC Military. REUTERS/DRC Military/Handout

The carcasses of some of the 22 elephant slaughtered in a helicopter-bourne attack lie on the ground in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Garamba National Park, in this undated handout picture released by the DRC Military.

Credit: Reuters/DRC Military/Handout

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Armed groups in central Africa are using powerful weapons, some of which may be left over from the civil war in Libya, to kill elephants for their ivory, the United Nations said on Monday.

In a report to the U.N. Security Council, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said elephant poaching was a growing security concern, particularly in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad and Gabon.

Ban said the illegal trade in ivory may be an important source of funding for armed groups, including warlord fugitive Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

"Also of concern is that poachers are using more and more sophisticated and powerful weapons, some of which, it is believed, might be originating from the fallout in Libya," his report said.

Ban said that in Minkebe Park in northeastern Gabon, more than 11,000 elephants had been slaughtered between 2004 and 2013, while in Chad in March, poachers killed 86 elephants - including 33 pregnant females - within a week. In Cameroon's Bouba Ndjida National Park, more than 300 elephants were killed during the last two months of last year.

"The situation has become so serious that national authorities in some countries, such as Cameroon, have decided to use the national army, in addition to law and order enforcement agencies to hunt down poachers," Ban said.

United Nations officials say growing Asian demand for ivory is helping to drive a poaching boom.

The U.N. Security Council's Group of Experts, who monitor an arms embargo imposed on Libya at the start of an uprising in 2011 that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi, said last month that the North African state had become a key source of weapons in the region as its nascent government struggles to exert authority.

The experts said weapons were spreading from Libya at an "alarming rate," fueling conflicts in Mali, Syria and elsewhere and boosting the arsenals of extremists and criminals in the region.

Ban's report singled out the LRA and Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. He and his commanders are accused of abducting thousands of children to use as fighters in a rebel army that earned a reputation for chopping off limbs as a form of discipline.

LRA fighters fought the Ugandan government for nearly two decades before being ejected from their strongholds in the north of the country in 2005, forcing them to establish bases in the jungles of other countries in the region.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

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Comments (3)
tatman wrote:
the poaching situation is destabilizing elephant populations throughout Africa, wiping out the knowledge base passed on from senior elephants to the young, which further threatens this species by plunging the remaining populations into chaos. this slaughter is unprecedented in scope and severity, and could easily wipe this entire species into extinction within the next two decades — if not sooner. upwards of 27,000 elephants were slaughtered between 2011-2013. DO NOT BUY CHINESE PRODUCTS! please think before you buy. it would be a loss beyond comprehension to see this magnificent animal become lost forever during our watch and our lifetime — all for vanity and ivory-carved trinkets. a travesty.

May 20, 2013 9:17pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Civilized Africans must take harsh and severe action to protect elephants and other endangered species.

May 20, 2013 10:30pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Where can i read this report? or what is the title of Ban Ki-moon’s report?
Thank you

May 21, 2013 3:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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