CITES welcomes United Nations Security Council call to investigate links between elephant poaching, ivory smuggling and illicit financing of the LRA

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The CITES Secretariat ready to support joint investigation

Geneva, 24 December 2012 – The Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) welcomes the United Nations Security Council’s call for an investigation into the alleged involvement of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the poaching of African elephants and smuggling of their ivory.

Through a statement read out by the current president of the body, Mr Mohammed Loulichki from Morocco, the Security Council called “on the United Nations and African Union to jointly investigate the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) logistical networks and possible sources of illicit financing, including alleged involvement in elephant poaching and related illicit smuggling”.

Welcoming the presidential statement CITES Secretary-General, Mr. John E. Scanlon said “The historic call made by the UN Security Council reinforces concerns about the links between illicit wildlife trafficking and regional security in Africa”. “The CITES Secretariat is ready to work with its partners to support efforts to investigate the involvement of rebel militias in wildlife crime”, he added.

Range States are currently experiencing a serious spike in the illegal killing of African elephants and rhinos and the related illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn. Data compiled from the programme CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) suggests an ongoing increase in levels of illegal killing of elephants since 2006, with 2011 displaying the highest levels of poaching since MIKE records began in 2002. These findings are supported by information available from the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), which confirms 2011 as the worst year on record for ivory seizures, with the period 2009-2011 including three of the top four years in which the largest quantities of ivory were seized.

The illegal killings of large number of elephants for their ivory are increasingly involving organised crime and in some cases well-armed rebel militias. For example, in Bouba N'Djida National Park, in northern Cameroon, up to 450 elephants were allegedlly killed by groups from Chad and the Sudan early this year.The poached ivory is believed to be exchanged against money, weapons and ammunition to support conflicts in neighbouring countries. The Secretary-General expressed grave concern over this incident and in response to this insurgence, the Government of Cameroon deployed up to 150 soldiers into the National Park in support of park rangers to put an end to the illegal killing. Another example of this type of poaching was the illegal killing of 22 elephants in the Garamba National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo, in April 2012, apparently shot from a helicopter with a high level of marksmanship and in a single raid. The ivory was taken away.

Combating wildlife crime will be high on the agenda of the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES to be held in Bangkok, Thailand from 3 to 14 March 2013. At this meeting, the 177 Parties to CITES will consider major enforcement decisions, including on elephants and rhinos.

CITES is the only global convention addressing international trade in wildlife. If not for CITES such trade would be unregulated.

Note to journalists: For more information, contact Juan Carlos Vasquez at +41 22 917 8156 or juan.vasquez@cites.org.

More background information on wildlife crime and elephant poaching is available at:

About CITES

With 177 Member States, CITES remains one of the world's most powerful tools for biodiversity conservation through the regulation of trade in wild fauna and flora. Thousands of species are internationally traded and used by people in their daily lives for food, housing, health care, ecotourism, cosmetics or fashion.

CITES regulates international trade in close to 35,000 species of plants and animals, including their products and derivatives, ensuring their survival in the wild with benefits for the livelihoods of local people and the global environment. The CITES permit system seeks to ensure that international trade in listed species is sustainable, legal and traceable.

CITES was adopted in Washington D.C. on 3 March 1973. The 40th anniversary of the Convention will be celebrated in March 2013 which coincides with the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to be held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 3 to 14 March 2013.

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