Thursday, October 3, 2013

WHY THE ELEPHANT MATTERS





Wildlife trafficking will receive overdue world attention this week at the United Nations General Assembly and by the Clinton Global Initiative and other elite platforms. The ongoing slaughter of African elephants will be in particular focus, as African states and their partners seek to craft consensus on how best to save the largest land mammal from extinction.


There are ecological and moral considerations related to the survival of species, but with so many people throughout the world suffering from war and privation, it is fair to ask why we should care about elephants. The reason: There is a tangible connection between wildlife trafficking and human security. Countries that do not value and cannot protect their natural heritage tend to be less stable, less secure, and less bound by global norms, with attendant risks to us all.


The issue is much bigger than localized tensions between communities and wildlife that are known to farmers and ranchers the world over. Increasingly, criminal and violent extremist organizations operate in sophisticated, multi-national networks. These networks aggressively target weak spots in the global system to gain money and power, either because that is their sole aim or in order to further ideological ends. Illicit trafficking across borders of guns, gems, drugs, wildlife—and humans—is their source of money and power. FULL STORY


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