Gorillas are still threatening conflict

Wars, conflicts, military exercises are all threats to more than 200 species in the world, such as elephants and eastern gorillas, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warned on April 28th.

Slaughtered animals, sometimes for volleyball training

In the report, the IUCN, whose 1,400 member organizations include states, NGOs and scientific institutions, condemns the devastating impact of armed conflict and other human violence on the environment. The Geneva-based organization also stresses that nature degradation is conducive to conflict and calls for environmental protection and sustainable management of natural resources to be seen as tools of peace. “The degradation of nature increases the risk of conflict, while wars destroy not only lives but also the environment“IUCN Director-General Bruno Oberle said in a statement. This report – the first in a series on nature in a globalized world – reveals that armed conflicts are particularly common in some regions of the world, the richest in biodiversity.

According to the IUCN, 219 endangered species are facing “wars, civil unrest and military exercisesWhile some of these animals have been killed, others see their ecosystem devastated. Several emblematic species threaten wars, such as the critically endangered eastern gorilla, which lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. One of the threats against Thomas Brooks, who heads the IUCN science unit, the world’s largest living primate, is “direct slaughter, sometimes for shooting practice, sometimes for foodBut the biggest threat posed by the species to species, he told AFP, is the risks posed by those trying to protect gorillas.

Species threatened by armed conflict (AFP - Gal ROMA)

Species threatened by armed conflict. Credit: AFP – Gal ROMA

85,000 armed conflicts were investigated

The report thus returns to the dramatic impact of certain conflicts on certain species. During the 1994 Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, for example, 90 percent of large mammals were killed in Akagera National Park, the report said. This genocide has forced thousands of people to flee through protected areas, forcing them to kill animals for food. Another example cited, in 2007 alone, Sudanese militias killed at least 2,000 elephants entering the Central African Republic, the report said. The document also states that the war in Vietnam “almost certainly accelerated the transition to extinction“from the Japanese rhino, because the Viet Congi, communist guerrillas, slaughtered them for food.”There is no doubt that conflicts have increased the risk of species extinctionsaid Thomas Brooks.

Gorilla in the forest of Kahuzi-Bieg National Park in September 2019 in DR Congo (AFP / Archive - ALEXIS HUGUET)

A gorilla in the forest of Kahuzi-Bieg National Park in September 2019 in the DRC. Credits: AFP / Archive – ALEXIS HUGUET

The report further notes that environmental degradation is associated with a higher risk of conflict. After examining more than 85,000 armed conflicts over the past 30 years that have killed more than two million people, the IUCN concludes that such violence is more likely to occur in countries where the country is less productive and where droughts are frequent. For IUCN chief economist Juh Siikamaki, “these findings suggest that the protection and sustainable management of natural resources can help reduce the pressures that cause conflict“.”As environmental degradation and climate change intensify, it is becoming increasingly important to consider the links between conflict and the environment when designing security, development and environmental policies.“Siikamaki said in a statement.

Elephant in the Bayanga Forest in April 2019 in the Central African Republic (AFP / Archive - FLORENT VERGNES)

An elephant in the Bayanga forest in April 2019 in the Central African Republic. Credits: AFP / Archive – FLORENT VERGNES

The report also reveals that conflicts are less common within nature reserves and other protected areas. “Protection, sustainable and equitable nature management play an important role in conflict prevention and peace restoration“, insisted Kristen Walker, who chairs the IUCN’s Environment, Economic and Social Policy Committee. These efforts make this especially possible.”support the existence and well-being of local and indigenous communities in peacetime and help reduce the risk of conflict“, she stressed. The report also sets out a series of policy recommendations aimed at mitigating and preventing armed conflict, including the establishment of safeguards for protected area personnel and other conservators. It also calls for”sanctions against those who commit war crimes from the environment“.

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