Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

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Why jihadists ignore the ivory trade ban

October 6, 2013

It should not surprise us that terrorists who have no respect for human life have even less respect for the lives of animals, much less critically endangered ones.

A recent assessment of the Elephant Action League is that as much as 40 percent of al-Shabaab’s revenues come from the illegal trade in ivory (h/t Sal), which is driving rhinos and elephants closer toward extinction.

Why does al-Shabaab believe that it is permissible to profit from this dreadful business?  It could be purely financial (like al-Shabaab’s hyena meat sales), but it’s worth examining how al-Shabaab’s leaders would justify behavior which, on its face, may appear to contradict passages of the Koran about treating animals gently.

One consideration is that whatever protections to animals that may be afforded under Islamic law can also be overridden in the in larger interests of profit and jihad—two topics which are the focus of far more Koranic verses than animal rights.

The Koran declares, “Allah hath allowed trade” (2:275), and sharia law provides protection to Muslim traders engaged in commerce.  The prominent Islamic philosopher Imran Hosein says “we stand for a free and a fair market around the world.”  Sanctions and embargos have been called “un-Islamic,” and has been suggested that Islam generally endorses free trade without restrictions on any merchandise other than goods which are specifically declared halal such as pork and wine.

Secondly, the Islamist ivory purveyors are unlikely to accept the concept of limiting their own lucrative trade to protect what they perceive to be abstract ecological interests imposed by international, secular law.  Groups such as al-Shabaab may also reason, as have many other jihadists and their imams, that if the proceeds of illegal activity are used in the furtherance of Islam, then it is ultimately justifiable under Islamic law.

A final challenge to limiting the illegal wildlife trade is that terrorists and smugglers in Africa are often working for or with businessmen in Dubai.  Although it is a signatory to the international convention against the international trade in endangered species, the UAE is a major enabler and broker for the exploitation of Africa’s natural resources, and is a hub for the global black market.

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Wildlife smugglers can’t deceive these dogs

May 10, 2013

The illicit trade in endangered species has been a growing source of terrorist revenues.  A new dog training program will help detect items illegally trafficked through the U.S.  Take a look at this video from the Fish & Wildlife Service and a related article by Russell McClendon of the Mother Nature Network (h/t CITES):

U.S. trains dogs to sniff out wildlife traffickers

The first graduating class of ‘wildlife detector dogs’ will soon be stationed at ports around the U.S., part of a growing effort to stem the illegal trade of flora and fauna.

If you’re a poacher hoping to smuggle rhino horns through a U.S. port, Uncle Sam wants you to know you’re barking up the wrong tree. And he has a new team of elite, hard-nosed cops to help him deliver that message: Butter, Viper, Lancer and Locket.

The first class of “wildlife inspector dogs” graduated this week from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Detector Dog Training Center (NDDTC) in Newnan, Ga., where they spent 13 weeks learning to identify the scent of endangered species — whether it’s South American rosewood or African elephant ivory. The four graduates, along with their human handlers, will soon be stationed at key ports around the country, where they’ll join a nationwide effort to stem the illegal trade in plant and animal parts.

“The recent rapid growth in the global trade in protected wildlife is pushing some species perilously close to extinction,” says Ed Grace, deputy chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement, in a press release. “Elephant and rhino populations in particular are declining at alarming rates. The battle to stop wildlife smuggling is one we simply cannot afford to lose, and using dogs and their phenomenal sense of smell to catch smugglers will give us a real leg up in this effort.”

Dogs already have a long history in law enforcement, from hunting fugitives to helping police detect bombs and drugs. But while they’ve been man’s best friend for millennia, their high-powered noses are increasingly ingratiating them to Mother Nature, too. Florida wildlife officials train dogs to sniff out invasive pythons in the Everglades, for example, while conservationists at the University of Washington train them to track endangered native animals by smelling their scat. On a small island in Australia, sheepdogs have even been entrusted to protect a population of endangered penguins.

But the task facing Bullet, Viper, Lancer and Locket — as well as future NDDTC cadets — is much broader than patrolling a single ecosystem. They will soon accompany agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the front lines of an expanding battle, one that pits international crime syndicates against a wide array of rare wildlife.

This comes on the heels of an unusually fruitful wildlife-trade summit held in Bangkok last month, one that highlighted both the gravity of the problem and the emerging possibilities for containing it. Conservationists pulled off several victories during the 2013 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), including new trade protections for sharks, turtles, elephants and great apes. But as critical as such regulations are, they’re only as effective as their enforcers. The U.S. is a major market for illegally traded wildlife, and human officers can only inspect so many packages.

“On an average day, I as a human being can physically inspect, if I’m pushing myself hard, anywhere from 70 to 100 packages,” FWS wildlife inspector Denise Larison says in a video about the new dog program. “And as you can see, the dogs can do 70 to 100 packages in a matter of minutes”…

Related:  Stella the dog finds €3m in illicit cash

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Black money news: recommended reading

March 8, 2013

• Jiminy cricket! Our friend El Grillo says a “Stockholm suicide bomber falsely claimed student loans to fund his terrorist activity.”  The latest case of debt financing the jihadmore>>

• The good news is that Indian financial institutions are getting better about filing suspicious transaction reports. The bad news is that it makes it look like India has experienced a 300 percent increase in terrorist financing activity since last year.  Maybe they have… more>>

• Which way is the wind blowing?  Towards Iran.  Just ask Europe about its renewable energy sanctions waiver for Iranian wind power.  Thanks to Willauer Prosky for sending this in… more>>

• International financial watchdog FATF is supposed to counter the financing of terrorism. But lately it seems more focused on getting countries to pass meaningless laws and high-fiving itself… more from Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld>>

Money Jihad has covered the illicit wildlife trade, particularly in cheetahs by rich Arab buyers. But even we didn’t know how extensive the cheetah market has become in Dubai.  No reporting yet on how the smugglers use the revenues… more>>

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Ivory terror: elephant bloodbath funds jihadists

December 3, 2012

Sudanese Arab militiamen and Somali al-Shabaab terrorists are financing their jihad from poaching raids against the endangered wildlife of their mostly Christian neighbors.

The janjaweed poachers use the profits from massacring the African elephant to continue their massacres against black Africans in Darfur.  The common link is their utter disregard for life and for the rule of law.

From the Africa Review on Nov. 17:

Cameroon deploys crack unit to foil Sudanese poachers

Cameroon’s Special Forces have been deployed to foil an imminent raid by Sudanese poachers who for eight weeks earlier this year slaughtered half the population of elephants for their ivory at one of the country’s wildlife reserves.

The poachers have been attempting to take park guards in northern Cameroon by surprise by exploiting greater ground cover that has sprouted in the rainy season, according to international conservation body World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which said it had been informed by high ranking officials of the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) on Friday.

“This is the same group of poachers that in early 2012 travelled more than 1,000km on horseback from northern Sudan across the Central African Republic and Chad to kill over 300 elephants in the Bouba N’Djida National Park in northern Cameroon,” WWF said.

The heavily armed and well coordinated poachers, who had told local villagers of their plans to kill as many elephants as possible, claimed they had killed as much as 650 out of some 1,000 that roamed the park.

The elephant population in Cameroon and in central Africa is estimated to have been halved, mainly by poachers, between 1995 and 2007 with the number of elephants killed still on the rise…

The article does not precisely identify whom the Sudanese poachers are or for what they will use the ivory profits.  But a story from the New York Times in September explained that Sudan’s janjaweed, the Arab supremacists who bear responsibility for the genocide against black Africans in Darfur, are offenders in the illegal ivory trade:

Several Sudanese ivory traders and Western officials said that the infamous janjaweed militias of Darfur were also major poachers. Large groups of janjaweed — the word means horseback raider — were blamed for killing thousands of civilians in the early 2000s, when Darfur erupted in ethnic conflict. International law enforcement officials say that horseback raiders from Darfur wiped out thousands of elephants in central Africa in the 1980s. Now they suspect that hundreds of janjaweed militiamen rode more than 600 miles from Sudan and were the ones who slaughtered at least 300 elephants in Bouba Ndjida National Park in Cameroon this past January, one of the worst episodes of elephant slaughter recently discovered.

In 2010, Ugandan soldiers, searching for Mr. Kony in the forests of the Central African Republic, ran into a janjaweed ivory caravan. “These guys had 400 men, pack mules, a major camp, lots of weapons,” a Western official said. A battle erupted and more than 10 Ugandans were killed.

“It just shows you the power of poaching, how much money you can make stacking up the game,” the official said.

How much and for what purpose?  Der Spiegel reports that janjaweed poachers use the proceeds for arms:  “The millions of dollars their poaching raid must have brought in will allow them to replenish their weapons stores.”

Although no Somalis were mentioned in the latest Cameroon hunt, the New York Times also identified al-Shabaab as an ivory poaching participant:

Perhaps no country in Africa is as lawless as Somalia, which has languished for more than 20 years without a functioning central government, spawning Islamist militants, gunrunners, human traffickers and modern-day pirates. Ivory has entered this illicit mix.

Several Somali elders said that the Shabab, the militant Islamist group that has pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda, recently began training fighters to infiltrate neighboring Kenya and kill elephants for ivory to raise money.

One former Shabab associate said that the Shabab were promising to “facilitate the marketing” of ivory and have encouraged villagers along the Kenya-Somalia border to bring them tusks, which are then shipped out through the port of Kismayo, a notorious smuggling hub and the last major town the Shabab still control.

“The business is a risk,” said Hassan Majengo, a Kismayo resident with knowledge of the ivory trade, “but it has an exceptional profit.”

Read more details of al-Shabaab’s involvement in the ivory trade here.

Sadly, the Islamist culture and tradition of raiding, pillaging, plundering and exploitation of natural resources and property is alive and well.

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Cheetah smuggling soars in Kuwait

November 7, 2012

Male pays for big pussy cat illegally

Kuwaiti men say that the big cats help them flirt with women somehow.  Obtaining a cheetah, which is an endangered species, is also a status thing—something that only the rich sheikhs and oilmen could afford in the past, but now affluent Kuwaitis can buy one for themselves.  Prices start at $10,000 per cheetah.

Kuwait signed the international convention against trading endangered species in 2003.  It is pathetic that the illegal importation takes place, especially when it seems to serve no better purpose than to satisfy the ego of the buyers.  But what is even more discouraging is that the government of Kuwait seems to be incapable of enforcing the terms of the agreement it signed.

From Kuwait Times around Oct. 30:

Cheetahs trade ‘a fast rising business’ in Kuwait

KUWAIT: Bu Rashid sat down in his dewaniya with a look of concern on his face as everyone in attendance could tell he was anticipating some news. Soon afterwards, he let out a sigh of relief after receiving a phone call in which the person on the other side of the conversation broke to him the good news: “The package you ordered has entered Kuwait.” It was no ordinary package that Bu Rashid had purchased from a Saudi merchant and smuggled into Kuwait. “These were a number of cheetahs smuggled via the border,” he admitted as he felt the need to explain to the people in his dewaniya who were left wondering about the mysterious phone call. An endangered species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) treaty, to which the Kuwaiti government is a signatory, cheetahs are becoming increasingly popular among wild animal trainers in the tiny desert nation located north east of the Arabian Gulf.

Once considered exclusive to Sheikhs (ruling family members) and wealthy businessmen, many Kuwaitis are entertaining the idea of raising cheetahs as these are relatively easier to be domesticated compared to other felines or wild animals. The trend is becoming even more popular with an increasing belief that Kuwait has an ‘open’ route for cheetahs. Cheetahs are smuggled to Kuwait from Saudi Arabia where they arrive from Africa via Yemen.

The Souk Jazan and Souk Al-Khouba at the Saudi- Yemeni border are considered the main markets where the animal is sold. After arriving in Yemen on boats, the cheetahs are transported through land to Saudi Arabia where they are placed in sackcloths before being smuggled into Kuwait. Looking for a cheetah to buy is as easy as searching for a product online. Potential cheetah owners have access to a variety of websites where merchants offer the animals for sale, complete with specifications and pictures, as well as prices that start from KD3,000.

A majority of customers are young people often seen walking their animals at the Arabian Gulf Road or putting them in their convertible cars, according to most traders. Abu Nawaf, an avid Cheetah trainer, believes that raising these animals is no different than raising falcons, horses or even sheep. “It can be both a hobby and a trade at the same time,” he said in a phone conversation with Al-Rai’s reporter after he refused to meet in person “to avoid legal prosecution.” Abu Nawaf does not see any reason why it is illegal for anyone to raise a cheetah “when there are Sheikhs and many celebrities who own them but no one can hold them accountable.” In this regard, environmental activist Abdurrahman Al-Sarhan explains that the CITES treaty the government signed in 2003 imposes upon Kuwait an international obligation to protect the endangered species. The Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources, the governmental body responsible for implementing such treaties in Kuwait, remains incapable of curbing the rising cheetah trade in Kuwait.

This is because most trainers keep their animals in private properties such as farms and livestock ranches, according to Oudah Al-Bathali who believes that the Kuwaiti government is not doing its job to ensure implementation of the CITES agreement.

Omar Al-Ajmy, who keeps a number of cheetahs at his residence, said that he has been practicing this hobby for years, but insisted that he does not trade “or make any kind of profit” from it. He also expressed frustration with the fact that his phone “never stops ringing” as many people call him with offers to buy his cheetahs. — Al-Rai

Weird pic of Arab and cat

The caliphs of old were said to use cheetahs for hunting, including Yazid I from the Umayyad period and As-Saffah of the Abbasid caliphate.  That tradition continued to the 20th Century, but if something isn’t done about the now illegal trade, this may be the last century before the cheetah goes extinct.

In other illegal wildlife trade news, the illegal ivory trade is said to be funding unspecified “armed guerrilla groups” in Thailand, which are probably Islamist.