The horrific slaughter of the elephants in Garamba national park highlighted in the last blog ‘Ivory lines Army pockets’ raises the prospect of a policy battle within United States government circles hingeing on real-life ‘snakes and ladders’.
In one corner is the ‘war on terror’ and the leading – as well as well-paid – role played by Ugandan troops in the African Union force combating Al Shabaab in Somalia; the same Ugandan army which is almost certainly complicit in an especially cold-blooded elephant killing spree in Garamba via a sniper hovering at tree-top level to execute multiple‘head-shots’ – including young-born.
In the other corner is the American Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) which has spent great time, effort and money helping to conserve Africa’s wildlife – using American taxpayers’ money.
Uganda is one of the lynch-pins of AFRICOM: in the wake of the 9/11 bombings the Bush Administration decided to ‘securitize’ Africa by setting up the United States African Command (AFRICOM).
Currently AFRICOM has over a dozen differing initiatives throughout the continent which range from combating terrorism, joint training exercises with local forces and oversight of regional security such as the Tripartite Plus Mechanism in Kinshasa that relies on information collated by the Joint Intelligence Fusion Cell.
Similarly the current drive by the United States to increase security across the Sahara region comes against a background of large-scale drug trafficking and kidnappings along with the presence of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The US response has been to collaborate with local governments under the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP).
All this makes it quite probable, and certainly possible, that those bullets that killed the elephants were paid for by the American tax-payer. Jasper Humphreys, The Marjan Centre