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Illegal wildlife trafficking imperils the continued existence of Africa’s elephants and rhinos, and it poses an increasingly dangerous security threat. During his recent tour of Africa, President Obama promised to help countries like Tanzania curtail the threat, and he has issued an executive order to do so.
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President Obama’s executive order will be used to set up a presidential task force that will – among other things – attempt to cut off the demand for ivory that is driving the slaughter of Africa’s remaining elephants and rhinos. Several scientists, including Jane Goodall, have warned that failure to address the illegal trade in horns and ivory could result in the extinction of elephants, to which several rhino species have already succumbed.
Worth $10 billion a year, the trade is not easy to fight. Rebel militias have become involved in the trafficking, using the horns and ivory as currency, according to ENN. Obama promised $10 million to train police and park rangers so they are better prepared to combat poachers.
“As we see criminal networks getting increasingly involved—you see poachers with night vision goggles and high-powered rifles—you also see some rebel militias trading in ivory and rhinoceros horn as source of currency and value,” Grant Harris, the state department’s Africa director, told reporters traveling with Obama.