Fugitive African warlord Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army is killing elephants across Central Africa to survive, according to a report by watchdog organizations.
The Enough Project, the Satellite Sentinel Project and two other groups said in the report released Monday that the LRA has turned to elephant poaching “as a means to sustain itself”, and are using money from the illegal ivory trade to buy arms, ammunition, and food.
The practice offers the LRA another way to sustain itself in addition to its habitual pillaging.
Kony has acquired a reputation of being a cruel warlord who uses boys as child soldiers and girls as sex slaves.
He was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2005 for war crimes and crimes against humanity. In 2012 he became the focus of international attention when the advocacy group Invisible Children released a popular online video highlighting Kony’s crimes and calling on him to be stopped.
Kony’s rebellion originated in Uganda before spreading to other parts of Central Africa. Under pressure from U.S.-backed African Union troops aiming to eliminate its leaders, the LRA is now scattered in small numbers throughout the Congo, South Sudan, and Central African Republic.
According to the Ugandan military, the LRA now has fewer than 500 rebels active in the bush, but they can still terrorize villagers with hit-and-run operations and move across the region’s borders in small groups.