UN Security Council declares war on ivory poachers, traffickers
NEW YORK (AFP) - The United Nations Security Council is cracking down on ivory hunters and traffickers who finance armed groups in Africa in a new initiative welcomed by conservationists.
Two resolutions adopted by the council last week - one relating to the Central African Republic, the other to the Democratic Republic of Congo - stated that the trade in illegal wildlife was fuelling conflicts in the region and bankrolling organised crime.
Under the resolutions, the council can slap sanctions, such as freezing assets or restricting travel, on any individual found to be involved in wildlife trafficking. The resolutions were primarily designed to target a number of armed rebel groups operating in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The UN also suspects the Lord's Resistance Army run by the ruthless warlord Joseph Kony uses the illegal ivory trade as a source of generating finances. Other groups believed to benefit from the illegal wildlife trade include Somalia's Al-Shabaab Islamist militant group and Sudan's fearsome Janjaweed militia.