A senior State Department official said on Tuesday that the US has no evidence that violent extremist groups such as Al-Shabaab are financing their operations through elephant poaching.
The comments by Mr Richard Glenn, the department’s top monitor of wildlife trafficking and transnational crime in Africa, contradict an earlier assertion by Ms Hillary Clinton, former US secretary of state, as well as claims by an elephant-protection NGO.
“I’ve not seen anything that indicates a direct link between wildlife trafficking and extremist groups,” Mr Glenn said in a press teleconference.
He added, however, that “it is not beyond the realm” that groups such as Al-Shabaab may have engaged in poaching.
Ms Clinton said in 2013 after stepping down as secretary of state in the Obama administration that Shabaab funds its “terrorist activities to a great extent from ivory trafficking.”
The Los Angeles-based Elephant Action League said in 2016 that an extensive investigation it had conducted uncovered clear links between Al-Shabaab and ivory trafficking.
“The fact that elephants no longer populate Somalia is irrelevant given that Al-Shabaab did not directly participate in poaching,” the environmentalist organisation stated.
“The group treated ivory as a commodity, like charcoal, and functioned as a trafficker only.”
Source: Daily Nation