At a point in time, after the deaths of the thirty thousand elephants killed in 2013 has sunk in, the inevitable question surfaces: Why should the international community care about elephants?
It’s not just because they are beautiful, social, caring animals. It’s because by mining the ivory from their carcasses, a vortex of violence and crime begins and spreads across the world. Revenue from the tusks increases as ivory is traded from poacher to broker to agent to war lords and militia gangs who in turn use the revenue to purchase arms and pay soldiers to terrorize villages and towns across Africa. (See the Charlie Rose segment)
An LA Times article on this subject, states,
“The Shabab’s spot as a premier broker is in part due to its financial and organizational prowess.”
THE FACES IN THE RAIN makes the hypothesis that the militia gangs of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, the Janjaweed raiders of Sudan, the Congolese rebels, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, the Ugandan soldiers who gun down elephants from helicopters, and the Al-Shabaab war lords do not have the financial and organizational prowess for which they are given credit. My novel proposes that they rely on cybercrime syndicates to broker deals, source arms and launder money for these groups. Allison and Sefu are sent to Tanzania to purchase ivory with the expectation that it leads the CIA to the cybercrime syndicate that specializes in manipulating the darkweb. I believe this trend will escalate.
Despite all this nefarious activity, the US is, this week (of August 4th) hosting the White House Africa Summit with nearly fifty African heads of State.
My hope is that as the international dialog continues, and the mechanisms that facilitate the trade of ivory are shut down. Of course criminals will continue to exploit wildlife as long as there is a demand for their parts. And while that continues, rehabilitation centers such as this (below) will need to continue their work.
Tanzania’s president, Jakaya Kikwete, described the considerable efforts his country was taking to provide extra training and resources to game rangers, but said he was hampered by lax security elsewhere in East Africa.
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“The elephants are killed in Tanzania,” said Kikwete, “but the consignment [of ivory] came from Kampala, Uganda. And moved through Mombasa,” the main port of Kenya. “So there is definitely need for working together.”