News from Zakouma

An attack on Zakouma National Park has garnered international attention regarding  the global trade in exotic animals and contraband.  The attackers weren’t who typically come to mind when one thinks of  “poachers” – but the goal was the same.  The attackers were after the nearly 1.5 tons of ivory previously seized from poachers and stored at Zakouma (worth some $1.3 million).  This however, is not the information making headlines – its the attackers’ identities. 

Poaching has long been regarded as an unorganized, small scale crime operation, primarily by small-scale networks or struggling individuals.  But this and several other poaching and animal contraband activities have been linked to well organized, sophisticated smugglers.  In the case of the Zakouma attack, it was the internationally known militia Janjaweed – the group that has carried out genocidal attacks in Dafur.  This terrifying connection has raised discussion on how the un-tracked money from contraband can fund large-scale, well-organized groups.  A recent article in Newsweek covering this issue emphasizes that “Just as the ultimate blame for drug lords who murder the innocent lies with users, so the blame for a wildlife trade that sustains organized crime and genocidal militias lies with the buyers.”  Read the whole article…

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