Small Arms Survey 2015 highlights increased firepower to wildlife poaching

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Illegal trade in wildlife and timber products finances criminal and militia groups, threatening security and sustainable development. Photo: World Bank/Curt Carnemark (file)

Commercial poachers and armed groups are bringing increased firepower and organization to the lucrative trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn, according to a recent survey.

Launched at UN Headquarters on Monday, the “Small Arms Survey 2015: Weapons and the World” includes an analysis on the role of weapons and armed violence on wildlife in Africa.

Stephanie Coutrix reports.

The Small Arms Survey is both the name of an academic think tank based in Geneva as well as the title of the publication it releases each year.

The 2015 edition covers a number of issues including an investigation into who wildlife poachers are in Africa, as well as the firearms and methods they use.

Elephant populations in Africa are reportedly in decline and the poaching of rhinos continues to escalate.

Presenting on this topic, Kristopher Carlson, Small Arms Survey Senior Researcher, said poachers are using multiple methods to kill these animals, including firearms, poisons and spears.

“Among those firearms that used to kill big game wildlife are hunting rifles and craft made weapons, those are the most common types of weapons. And behind them are also military style firearms, AK pattern rifles as well as some machine guns and so forth.”

Mr Carlson added that actors involved in poaching include non-state armed groups, some rogue elements of state militaries and small groups of commercial poachers.

Meanwhile, he said both poaching and anti-poaching activity in Africa is becoming increasingly militarized with access to advanced technology such as helicopters, drones and night vision equipment.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1’24″

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