A report by the Elephant Action League has revealed a link between the terrorist group responsible for the recent attack at Westgate mall in Nairobi and Africa’s illegal ivory trade. Up to 40 percent of the funds used by Al-Shabab to orchestrate the terrorist attack could have come from the sale of elephant ivory and rhino horn. Even though it is easy to assume poachers are to blame, the use of ivory for ornamental and medicinal purposes also puts significant fault with consumers.
The revelation demonstrates that poaching is as much a threat to humans as it is to the animals killed for their tusks and horns. This is made very clear by the attack that killed 68 people and left more than 150 injured. The report conducted in 2011 revealed that smuggling rhino horn enabled the terrorists to buy explosives, bullets and weapons.
In July, President Obama issued an executive order to establish a cabinet-level Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking, which formed an advisory council including cabinet members and executives from major anti-trafficking and wildlife conservation organizations. In light of the newly discovered link between terrorist funding and the ivory trade, the task force will more than likely play a pivotal role in cutting off funding from organizations such as al-Shabab. This is especially true as the number of poaching incidents continues to increase, and the sophistication of their operations begins to prove too much for local law enforcement to handle.