The Somalian terrorist group Al Shabaab is believed to be behind the recent wholesale slaughter of elephants and rhinos in Kenya. The group is using funds from selling the animal’s much sought-after horns to fund its attacks as well as to train its members. The black market values of horns from the animals is estimated to be worth over $19 billion per year.
Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the September attack on Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Sixty-seven people were killed in that attack that lasted four days from September 21-24. Funding for the attack may have come from the sale of the elephants’ horns.
To date, 60 wardens and 38,000 elephants have been slaughtered by the terrorists for what is called “blood ivory.” Although gangs in Africa are also believed to be behind the attacks, Al Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked group, is said to be the key player in the increasingly profitably trade.
The terrorist group is said to be bringing in more than a half a million dollars per month in the black market trade, enough to pay each of their jihadi fighters close to $120 per month, in according to the Sunday Express.
Although the terrorists continually look for new methods to slaughter the animals, currently, many elephants are killed by poisoning their water supplies.
Rhinos horns are highly sought-after in Africa as they are believed to contain medicinal properties. According to the Express, one rhino is killed every 11 hours, with an over 3,000 percent increase in the poaching of these animals recently. The Express reports that, “A rhino horn is worth more than its weight in cocaine to terror groups or crime syndicates.”
In an effort to stop the slaughter of the rhinos, the government of Kenya began a program to implant a microchip in every rhino last month.
The UK has also sent a group of elite paratroopers to Kenya to help train wardens from the Kenyan Wildlife Service, Kenyan Forestry Service and Mount Kenya Trust in better methods of patrolling and capturing the poachers.
In addition, the UK government is also working with Kenyan prosecutors in an effort to help stop the flow of monies to fund terrorism.
In a visit to Kenya last week, the UK environment secretary Owen Paterson said, “'Illegal poaching is having a devastating effect on some of the world’s most iconic species. By joining forces with those on the frontline in Kenya, our armed services will be able to provide training and support to the courageous people who put their lives on the line every day.”