African warlord Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in Congo are killing elephants for their ivory, which they trade for supplies in Sudanese-controlled territory.
According to a new report released Monday by the watchdog group Enough Project, the ivory is trafficked from Congo’s Garamba National Park, where the animals are poached, to Kafia Kingi, an enclave controlled by Sudan. “The rebels deal with Sudanese merchants to get food, uniforms and ammunition,” says the Enough Project report. The findings are based on interviews with defectors from the rebels.
One group of rebels based in the park poaches elephants and secures the ivory, and then another group transports the ivory from northeastern Congo through Central African Republic to Kafia Kingi, the report charges.
“The tusks are likely trafficked to Nyala, South Darfur, and on to Khartoum for export abroad, primarily to Asia,” it said.
The report adds that rebel commanders, under direct orders from Kony, have also traded with Sudanese military officers.
Sudan has faced persistent accusations that it is aiding Kony’s group, charges the Khartoum government denies.
Kony is being hunted by a joint African force of troops from Uganda and Congo. U.S. advisers are also deployed to the jungles of central Africa to help the force trying to capture or kill Kony and his rebels.
Last week President Barack Obama reauthorized U.S. support for the mission against Kony.
Kony himself is believed to be hiding in Kafia Kingi, where he has eluded the international forces searching for him. His rebel group originated in Uganda in the 1980s as a tribal uprising against the government, eventually gaining notoriety for the sexual enslavement of girls and the recruitment of boys. By 2006, a Ugandan military assault had forced all the rebels to flee to Congo and to other parts of central Africa.
According to Enough Project, only about 120 Lord’s Resistance Army rebels remain in the bush.