Poaching Is Terrorism

Reported by E.M. Fay

It is a compounded tragedy for wildlife that the gruesome trade in body parts from brutally killed elephants, rhinoceroses, lions, and other animals, has increased alarmingly since the world entered into a perceived near-constant state of “terrorist activity.”

In August, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took a step in the right direction regarding the illegal poaching of tens of thousands of animals, most from the Continent of Africa, who are slaughtered annually for profit. She brought some attention to a problem which until now has been largely ignored by most political leaders, to the point that whole populations of animals are endangered.

Clinton asked that more money be devoted to training and equipping anti-poaching personnel in the countries most affected by the deadly trade. There is no doubt as to the seriousness of the situation for wildlife.  The Wildlife Conservation Society estimates that at least 35,000 African elephants were killed “illegally” last year alone.  At this rate, there will be none left on the Continent in the near future, as the general population is already down from 1.2 million in 1980 to only 420,000 currently.

Although there has been trade in elephants’ tusks, lion carcasses, and numerous other profit-motivated wildlife killings for centuries, the present-day terrorist connection is an additional cause for alarm.  In the case of just one terrorist group, reports have given figures as high as $200,000 – $600,000 monthly profit in ivory poaching alone.  Other reports show that tusks have been traded for arms, food, even medical supplies.

As reported in the New York Times, then-Secretary Clinton instituted a study to determine the connection between trafficking in animal parts and American security.  And since leaving office, she has continued to work on the problem, making efforts to raise awareness, and asking that world leaders join her.


For this admirable project to have any chance of succeeding, a broad base of international concern and cooperation is required.  Involvement is needed from both governmental and non-governmental bodies, multi-lateral conservation groups, and technology experts.  Only by enlisting such diverse players can the seriously threatened animals of Africa or elsewhere have any chance of surviving the ongoing decimation of their numbers.

On Sept. 26th, Clinton announced that a consortium of 16 NGOs and African nations would collaborate with the Clinton Global Initiative to protect the fast-decreasing elephant and rhinoceros populations with a three-year anti-poaching program.  $80 million has been pledged to the effort so far.  Hiring more wildlife park guards to protect animals in the first place is one part of the plan, as well as more effective prosecution of traffickers.
At least as important as those factors is the need to curtail the demand, particularly in China, for ivory products.

Quoted in the Huffington Post, Clinton said, “Unless the killing stops, African forest elephants are expected to be extinct within 10 years. I can’t even grasp what a great disaster this is ecologically, but also for everyone who shares this planet.”

She added, “[This] seems like such a rebuke to our own values.”


We ask that our readers call and write the State Department and the White House to urge that they continue this effort to protect wild animals worldwide, whether to reduce the income of terrorists or for loftier ideals.

U.S. Dept. of State
Main Phone# 202-647-4000

U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

The White House comment line:


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