The release of IFAW’s latest report “Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of Illegal Wildlife Trade 2013” was well timed with Obama’s $10 million investment in the fight against wildlife crimes.  This IFAW study examines the damaging implications of wildlife crime for governance and security in many countries across the globe.

The conclusions of the IFAW report were hammered home in the Enough! Projects report “Kony’s Ivory: How Elephant Poaching in Congo Helps Support the Lord’s Resistance Army” which demonstrated how armed groups and insurgencies feed off illicit trade and trafficking to maintain violence and instability.  The report found evidence that a number of armed groups in the region are participating in elephant poaching across the region, and as a consequence, the United Nations estimates that there may have already been a 50 percent to 90 percent decrease in the elephant populations of the CAR and DRC.  Park rangers in Garamba national park in the DRC suspect that members of the Congolese, South Sudanese, Sudanese, and Ugandan armed forces, as well as state-sponsored militias including the Janjaweed from Darfur, are participating in killing the park’s elephants at an accelerating pace.

When it comes to all types of environmental crimes, a law enforcement response is never enough.  A focus on seizures is just too late, as the immeasurable and irreversible damage to ecosystems has already been done.