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Rhino Poaching Has Devastating Consequences For Victims Of Terrorism

<p>Son of Groucho / <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/sonofgroucho/7735110324/" target="_blank">Flickr</a> (<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/" target="_blank">CC BY 2.0</a>)</p>

Violence begets violence.

Fact: Elephants are poached by terrorist groups in order to obtain ivory to fund their terrorist operations.

A swarm of gunmen stormed a Kenya university before dawn Thursday, opening fire and taking hostages.

147 people were killed at Garissa University College, the Kenyan Interior Ministry said. More than 500 students remain unaccounted for at the campus that had about 815 students, according to the Kenya National Disaster Operation Center.

The Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militant group claimed responsibility for the assault.

This is not a rare happening. The kidnapping of Nigerian girls, the Westgate Mall attack in Kenya - these attacks are funded by elephant poaching. Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda - they make up to 40 percent of their organizational funding for weapons, training, and basic supplies through ivory.

The demand for ivory and horn stems from the Asian market; using both ivory and horn for medicinal purposes, in carvings, artwork, jewelry, and as a status symbol. The devastating effect on both elephant and rhino populations is making the product more difficult to come by. High demand, low supply equal ludicrously high product value. And this is the attraction for the terrorist groups.

Paying poachers less than $100 to do the dirty work, they gain approximately $2,000 per kilogram in the sale of the ivory. Rhino horn is also a valued commodity for the terrorists, at a whopping $65,000 per kilogram on the black market. An easy cash flow with little risk.

Shouldn't the buyers of ivory and horn be held responsible for the deaths of innocent victims? At the very least they are accessories to the crime.

It's time to stop looking at poaching as simply an "animal rights" issue or an "African problem." With terrorist attacks plaguing the US, Europe and Africa alike, this is a global concern demanding immediate action from every country. It's time to get serious.