Care for the Wild International reports that “It is estimated that Al Shabaab - the group linked to the recent attack on civilians in Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi - funds 40% of activities through elephant poaching and ivory trade."
The killing and the poaching of elephants and rhinoceros for their ivory is not a new thing. Ivory has held fascination for many cultures for thousands of years. During the 20th century the poaching of not only elephants, but also lions, tigers, and rhinoceros threatened these magnificent animals throughout their natural ranges.
The 21st century has brought a new type of poacher. This new breed of poacher/terrorists kill wildlife as a means to fund their terrorist operations. They are far more sophisticated and dangerous than their predecessors. They are better armed with military weapons which pose increased threats to both those who try to protect wildlife and the wildlife itself.
The grisly trade is fueled by the growing economies of countries such as China. According to Care for the Wild International a “10kg tusk is worth almost £10,000, the profitability of such a lucrative trade is attracting some high profile terrorist groups to become involved in order to raise funds for both international and domestic activities, while methods of killing have spread to the reported use of cyanide and military grade weaponry.”
It's estimated that if poaching continues to grow elephants, rhinos, lions and tigers will be extinct before the middle of the century.
The seriousness of the current trend was reinforced when United Nations put wildlife crime in the same bracket as the drugs trade and gun smuggling.
“It’s devastating to think that by the time our children are in their thirties, they will have to turn to the television or internet to observe these animals in their natural habitat," explained Philip Mansbridge, CEO of Care for the Wild International.
An estimated 40,000 elephants were killed in 2012. So far this year 700 rhinos have already been killed which is more than the total slain last year.
In an attempt to save these animals Care for the Wild International has launched the awareness Tooth Fairy campaign. According to the organization they are, “Focusing on elephants - to alert children and their parents to the fact that a child losing teeth is like an elephant losing its tusks except that when an elephant loses its tusks, it dies.”
“The campaign encourages children to become a Tooth Fairy Hero by pledging the money they would have received for wobbly teeth to the charity in order to help protect these iconic animals.”
Learn more about the Tooth Fairy Hero campaign by visiting the Care For the Wild website International website.