Wildlife Trafficking Is Fueling Terrorism

There are only two Northern White Rhinos left in the world. These two remarkable creatures live under constant armed security because poachers and terrorists are determined to kill them for their horns. Guarding these rhinos is like protecting the Mona Lisa or some other priceless piece of art in a war zone. Along with the sale of elephant tusks, black market wildlife traffickers have hunted many of Africa's great animals to extinction. This must end now before it is too late and these animals are lost forever.

Today, rhino horns go for $65,000 per kilogram on the black market. At such a high price the illegal poaching of these rare animals contributes a sizeable portion of the estimated $19 billion a year wildlife trafficking industry. Terrorists and other extremist groups have noticed this lucrative business as a source of funding for their own evil deeds. Terrorist organizations such as al-Shabaab and the Lord's Resistance Army desperate for money use the illegal rhino horn and ivory trade to raise millions of dollars for their violent causes. We may often look at wildlife trafficking as a conservation issue, but it is also a major national security concern that is not being taken as seriously as other terrorist financing schemes.

Unfortunately, wildlife trafficking and the illegal ivory trade exists in large part because corrupt governments like China and Vietnam permit a market for these illicit goods. These governments have pledged to support anti-trafficking measures but have failed to enforce existing laws or target consumers. Even North Korea has gotten in on the illegal trade with its diplomats caught multiple times shipping horns and tusks in diplomatic pouches to East Asia. Without action by these governments to stop the rhino horn and elephant tusk markets in their countries, it will be nearly impossible to prevent poaching in Africa.

China, Vietnam, and other governments around the world must understand that allowing wildlife trafficking in their borders is contributing to the financing of terrorism and instability in Africa. Overall, more must be done to stop the poachers, traffickers, terrorists, and corrupt foreign authorities that allow this illegal business to thrive. With dozens of rhinos and elephants killed each day for their horns and tusks, time is running out.

And that's just the way it is.


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