Uganda, US troops find tusks in CAR
The UPDF and American Special forces in Central African Republic have discovered a cache of elephant tusks reportedly hidden by LRA fighters north of Djema Town.
A statement issued on Thursday by the UPDF spokesperson, Col. Felix Kulayigye, said the discovery followed a tip-off by an LRA defector, who reported that the rebels maintained caches of ivory tusks and identified the approximate location.“A US Embassy Bangui representative contacted officials at the CAR Ministry of Forests and Water, who indicated that the ministry was unable to reach the remote location to secure the tusks,” he explained.
Given the political situation in CAR at the moment it is unsurprising that the Government is unable to do very much. The national unity government has been in place just over a week.
The discovery corroborates reports that LRA is involved in trading elephant tusks, which are reportedly taken to Darfur and exported. One kilogramme of ivory can sell for more than $1000 and the price keeps going higher.
In 2011, 38.8 tonnes of illegal ivory was seized by authorities worldwide, equaling the tusks of more than 4,000 dead elephants.
Last year, the UPDF was implicated in the killing of elephants in DR Congo but Col. Kulayigye said the discovery of ivory in Djema exonerates them. “It should be recalled that some so-called researchers had accused the disciplined UPDF of poaching, yet back home we are well known conservationists,” he said.
Col. Kulayigye said the tusks were handed over to the CAR government. “Together with our US allies, we are in contact with CAR officials to fully account for, and dispose of, the tusks in accordance with international law and treaty obligations,” Col. Kulayigye said.
That means that they should be burned. I can understand the rational behind that but it seems to me at least to be a waste of valuable ivory and I doubt it does much to discourage poaching. The LRA is prepared to kill humans on a huge scale they are not going to hesitate to kill elephants.
When asked for more details on LRA’s involvement in the trade, he said: “I don’t know the details of the trade-that is speculation.”
Last week, Resolve, a US based advocacy organisation released a report, saying the LRA was becoming weaker but still remains a regional security threat.
Ending the activity of the LRA should be a priority for the world. Joseph Kony and his followers should be hunted down or brought in front of the ICC personally I don't much care which option is exercised.
The UPDF, backed by American forces are in the region to fight the Ugandan rebels group. The rebels shifted base to the CAR in 2008, following the Operation Lightning thunder that flashed them out of their base in Garamba Forest in the eastern DR Congo.
The LRA was originally based in northern Uganda, where it fought with government, displacing about 1.5 million people, killing and maiming hundreds of thousands others.
The sooner justice is visited on Kony the better.