“Elephants are being slaughtered and their tusks sold, in order to finance deadly attacks by Somalia’s terrorist group al-Shabaab. This narrative linking poaching and al-Shabaab financing has been widely touted. It hit the international spotlight thanks to high profile attention from U.S. congressmen, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow also released a short film on the topic in 2014.”
“The only problem with this narrative is that it is unfounded. It is based entirely on a 2013 Elephant Action League (EAL) report, which states that al-Shabaab earns $200,000 to $600,000 per month from ivory. The figure stems from research carried out three years earlier by Maisha Consulting, who have not offered evidence to substantiate their estimate. A recent U.N. Environment Programme study suggests that EAL’s conclusion doesn’t make sense. Indeed, the U.N. Monitoring Group for Somalia and Eritrea has never found evidence of ivory trading in either country.”
“Rather than relying on illegal ivory trade, for years, al-Shabaab predominantly financed its activities with charcoal. People throughout the Arab Gulf—including in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen—have long depended on Somali charcoal. In fact, al-Shabaab’s coal business reached, at its peak, between $38 and $56 million per year. Al-Shabaab additionally profits from trading sugar and taxing small shops and businesses.” (Coordination Center)
coal business reached, at its peak, between $38 and $56 million per year. Al-Shabaab additionally profits from trading sugar and taxing small shops and businesses.