The population of elephants in Garamba National Park in northeast Congo has dropped from 20,000 to just over 2,000 since 1960. The Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, led by Joseph Kony, hunts African elephants in the park to fund the killings and mass atrocities it commits throughout central Africa.
The LRA has catalyzed the poaching problem in Garamba since expanding its operations outside of the borders of Uganda in 2005. As described in the Enough Project report, “Kony’s Ivory: How Elephant Poaching in Congo Supports the LRA”, the LRA and other rebel militias continue to hunt the African elephants andtrade the ivory for arms, ammunition, and food. Some of the bounty is also sent north, out of the park, to the Central African Republic and South Sudan border where Kony and his closest fighters are assumed to be hiding.
A new video by our partner, Invisible Children, or IC, highlights the organization’s work to promote LRA defections by dropping defection fliers with its Defection Flyer initiative. The defection flyer project was encouraged by the U.N. and initiated by Invisible Children and many local supporters to encourage LRA fighters and followers to surrender peacefully. Child soldiers and sex slaves of the LRA are often too fearful to attempt escape, scared into submission by their captors. The flyers, dropped in tens of thousands over Garamba and other areas known to be inhabited by the LRA, explain in local languages how to safely surrender to later be reintegrated into one’s community. The program has had great success, with 79% of LRA defectors over the past year attributing the flyers to the main reason for their escape.
Check out the video.
- VIDEO: Kony’s Ivory: LRA Poaching in Garamaba National Park
- Report: Kony’s Ivory: How Elephant Poaching in Congo Helps Support the Lord’s Resistance Army
Photo: Elephants in Garamba National Park (Enough Project)