The Elephant’s Armageddon: Part I

elephants sunset

By guest writer— Ron Thomson

This an eleventh-hour appeal for common sense to prevail in the ongoing and controversial international debate surrounding what management strategy is deemed best for the African elephant. Just as the Christian bible or the Islamic Qur’an cannot be written on the back of a postage stamp, however, so the details of elephant conservation cannot be expounded in a single short article. This, therefore, is the first of a series of blogs that will reveal the facts surrounding this – for Africa – vitally important topic. I promise you only one thing – I will tell you the truth. I intend to tell you “what is” without fear or favour.

What credentials do I have to qualify me to write such an important series? That is an important question so let’s get its answer out of the way at the outset.

I am a 78 year old white African who has spent his entire life in the service of Africa’s wildlife. I began my career, age 20, in 1959 when I attested into the Rhodesian (now Zimbabwean) Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management. I served in that department for 24 years, rising through the ranks to become the Provincial Game Warden-in-charge of Hwange National Park – the country’s premier tourism destination and big game sanctuary. I qualified as an ecologist; became a member of the Institute of Biology (London); and was registered as a Chartered Biologist for the European Union for 20 years.

Throughout my career I was deeply involved with the hands-on management of all Africa’s big game animals and I worked closely with some of the continent’s greatest and most accomplished full-time wildlife scientists. I pioneered and perfected the capture of black rhinos in the Zambezi Valley (1964 – 1970) – hunting on foot; approaching every rhino that I darted, alone, with only a capture gun in my hands; and I successfully translocated 140 of these pugnacious beasts, releasing them into the relative safety of the country’s national parks. For those of you who know about such things, you may be interested to know that my average darting range, in the heavy Zambezi valley thickets, was between 6 and 13 yards.

Throughout my service, I hunted elephants extensively – crop-raiders; man-killers; veterinary fence breakers; agricultural installation nuisances; to stop the advance of the tsetse fly into the country’s commercial farming areas; and to variously help feed the Batonka people after they had been forcibly evacuated from their ancestral homes on the banks of the Zambezi river following the creation of Lake Kariba. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed my dangerous big game hunting adventures but I never hunted for trophies. I hunted elephant because it was my job, as a government game ranger, to do so.

I was the officer-in-charge – and chief hunter – of the elephant population reduction programme in the Gonarezhou National Park (1971 & 1972) when, for urgent management reasons, we reduced the numbers of elephants in that park from 5000 to 2500; during which operation I perfected new, humane and more efficient elephant culling techniques.

I left Zimbabwe in 1983 under duress, when Mr Mugabe replaced all the colonial civil servants with veterans of his recent War-of-Liberation. I was prepared to stay and help the new Zimbabwe develop; but I was not wanted!

I emigrated to South Africa in 1983 where I served as Chief Nature Conservation Officer for Ciskei (one year); and then Director of the National Parks and Wildlife Management Board of Bophuthatswana (three years). And I operated as a professional hunter for three years. Soon, thereafter, I began writing books (x 14 now) about Africa’s wildlife management issues – and articles in outdoor magazines about such controversial issues as the need to cull, or not to cull, elephants. For the last 28 years I have earned a living as an investigative wildlife journalist.

I explain all these things to emphasize my point that I have vast hands-on experience in the management of Africa’s elephants – and other big game animals; that I have biological/ecological training and experience; and that I am amply qualified to write this blog and the ones that follow. And I have been actively engaged in all these matters for the last 58 years.

I love Africa’s wildlife, particularly its elephants and black rhinos, and I am distraught in the knowledge that the fate of all these wonderful animals now rests, de facto, in the hands of uninformed and incompetent NGOs, and interfering governments in the First World – who see only what they want to see of the complex wildlife management and humanitarian issues involved. And they, more often than not, miss the point by a mile; the NGOs fabricate untruths in their propaganda; and thereby, they make hundreds of millions of US dollars out of their gullible publics.  These people – from Prince William in Buckingham Palace to the supporters of the planet’s most pernicious animal rightist NGOs – are now making demands on Africa (through organisations like the US Fish & Wildlife Service, CITES and the European Parliament ) to apply solutions to Africa’s elephant poaching problems that are only going to make matters worse.

The elephants of Africa need common sense to prevail. They will not survive without it. My next several blogs will reveal to you a great many realities about Africa and its elephants – information that you have never heard nor believed possible. Nobody can make a rational decision about anything unless and until they are in possession of all the facts about it. Considering the needs of Africa’s elephants and their management is no exception. I intend to provide you, therefore, with all the pertinent facts in the next several blogs. So look forward to the next blog that will be coming soon.

ICCF Commends $23.7M Initiative to Combat Poaching & Conflict in Africa

ICCF Commends The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Nature Conservation Trust and SANParks for Announcing R255 million (USD $23.7 million) Initiative to Combat Poaching & Conflict in AfricaBlack_Rhino_on_Ngorongoro_Crater

March 18, 2014

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Nature Conservation Trust and
SANParks Announce Historic R255 Million Commitment to Combat Poaching, Conflict in Africa

Three-year effort will intensify protection of Kruger National Park’s rhino population, and identify successful strategies to address poaching which finances conflict in Africa

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – The Howard G. Buffett Foundation (HGBF), a private foundation in the United States; the Nature Conservation Trust (NCT), a South African public benefit organization (PBO); and South African National Parks (SANParks) today announced an historic RAND 255 million (USD $23.7 million), three-year initiative to combat rhino poaching in Kruger National Park and test anti-poaching tactics that can be applied in other regions of Africa, where poaching can be a source of funding for armed groups. The announcement was made at the Rosebank office of Standard Bank, which also announced its own support for the initiative by providing favorable banking fees and interest on the funds which they will hold.

The effort in Kruger will create an Intensive Protection Zone (IPZ) using sophisticated detection and tracking equipment and infrastructure on the ground and in the air; elite canine units and highly-trained ranger teams; and improved intelligence gathering and observation and surveillance systems. Kruger is currently home to over 40% of the world’s remaining 22,000 rhinos, the largest single population of rhinos in the world. Since January 2010, 1,383 rhinos have been poached from Kruger National Park, part of a larger assault that resulted in 2,368 rhinos poached in South Africa over the past few years. In some areas of Africa, entire populations of rhino have been eliminated.

Kruger’s poaching problem is fueled mainly by illicit criminal networks in Mozambique, South Africa, and East Asia, but evidence suggests that armed groups elsewhere in Africa derive significant funding from poaching activities. Kruger’s IPZ will also serve as a testing ground to inform targeted efforts to combat poaching in these other African regions.

“SANParks, thanks to the leadership of David Mabunda, and Kruger National Park, under the direction of General Johan Jooste, provide a unique opportunity to test new technology and new ideas within the best operating national parks system on the continent,” said NCT Chairman and HGBF CEO Howard G. Buffett. “This effort joins our foundation’s historic support for conservation with our current focus on conflict mitigation in Africa, particularly in the Great Lakes region.”

“The scale, complexity, and strategic value of this initiative is truly unprecedented for SANParks, and we believe will be transformative in our ongoing efforts to address poaching and the decimation of the rhino population in Kruger National Park,” said SANParks CEO David Mabunda. “More importantly, the lessons we hope to learn and share across SANParks and the continent will, we believe, develop new and more effective ways to combat illicit wildlife trade, particularly where it is financing armed groups.”

The Leadership for Conservation in Africa (LCA), led by its South African-based CEO Chris Marais, will provide advisory and advocacy support for the collaboration.

NCT and HGBF have a long history of support for conservation in Africa. NCT, with 100% of its funding provided by HGBF, created the Jubatus Cheetah Reserve in 2001 and the Ukulima Research Farm in 2007, both located in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Through its direct investments and support for NCT, HGBF has, prior to this announcement, committed over RAND 485 million (USD $45 million) in South Africa for a range of conservation and agriculture development activities including strengthening environmental governance; carnivore research in the Shashe/Limpopo Trans-Frontier Conservation region; preservation of natural resources; cheetah research and regional planning for cheetah conservation; development of agricultural strategies and production of improved seed for smallholder farmers. HGBF has committed an additional RAND 1.9 billion (USD $175 million) in support of its Africa Great Lakes Peace Initiative, which also includes funding for anti-poaching efforts designed to interrupt the capital flow to armed groups.

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation works to improve the quality of life for the world’s most impoverished and marginalized populations. It focuses on three core areas: food security, water security, and conflict mitigation. Based in Decatur, Illinois, the Foundation is led by CEO Howard G. Buffett. Mr. Buffett has been a permanent resident of South Africa since 2007. To learn more about the Foundation

The Nature Conservation Trust was established in 2000 by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation as a non-profit organization and later was converted to a public benefit organization. The Trust has two primary charitable purposes: to conserve nature, restore degraded land, and to help ensure the long term survival of cheetahs and other carnivores in situ; and to support research and improved practices in agriculture for smallholder farmers to reduce food insecurity on the African continent.

South African National Parks manages a system of parks which represents the indigenous fauna, flora, landscapes and associated cultural heritage of the country. The national parks are: Groenkloof, Kruger, Table Mountain, Marakele, Golden Gate, Camdeboo, Mountain Zebra, Addo Elephant, Garden Route National Park (Tsitsikamma, Knysna, & Wilderness), Bontebok, Agulhas, West Coast, Karoo, Namaqua, |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld, Augrabies, Kgalagadi, Mapungubwe, Tankwa Karoo and Mokala. To learn more visit

Read the Press Release

Find out more about the International Conservation Caucus Foundation.


Reblogged from Conservation Magazine.

“Are rhinos a keystone species on the African savannah? A new study from the Journal of Ecology forecasts dire consequences for ecosystems if the rhino disappears from the African landscape.” ~ Andrew Wyatt

February 19, 2014 / Conservation This Week

We don’t usually think of herbivores as keystone species. That’s a moniker we usually apply to apex predators, who can keep entire ecosystems in check and aren’t themselves subject to predation. But given their size, mature “megaherbivores” like white rhinos aren’t usually subject to predation either. If they can survive to adulthood, the main pressure on the size of their population, like for apex predators, is simply the availability of food. That allows them to exert disproportionate control over their environments, just as lions or wolves. According to new research published in the Journal of Ecology, Africa’s white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum) could be thought of as apex consumers.

The removal of apex predators from an ecosystem can be catastrophic. The oft-used examples are the Yellowstone wolves. When they were culled, the deer population exploded, which in turn meant that plant populations declined. The bears, who rely on many of the same berries on which the deer fed, also suffered from lack of food. When the wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone, the entire community shifted back into balance.

Researchers are increasingly realizing that the removal of megaherbivores from their ecosystems can have similarly devastating impacts. In a 2009 paper in the journal Science, paleoecologist Jacquelyn Gill argued that the extinction of North American Pleistocene megaherbivores—mammoths, mastodons, horses, sloths, camels—drove similar large-scale ecosystem changes. The diversity and populations of plant communities were altered, which led to subsequent extinctions of other species.

Most research on the effects of plant eaters on the African savannah has focused on the other massive herbivore, elephants. So researchers Joris P. G. M. Cromsigt and Mariska te Beest turned to white rhinos. Rhinos aren’t just elephants with different ivory ornamentation, they also put pressure on different plant communities. Elephants are primarily browsers, eating from trees, while rhinos are grazers. Think of them like adorable lawn mowers with pointy spikes at the ends of their noses.

Wild rhinos may be driven to extinction within the next couple decades if current poaching rates continue. What will that mean for the African savannah?

Rhinos were driven out of South Africa’s Kruger National Park by 1896 due to hunting, and were reintroduced beginning in the 1960s. The reintroduction was a massive success: by 2010, there were some 10,000 to 11,000 individuals within the park. But they aren’t equally distributed. This presented Cromsigt and te Beest with a natural experiment. They compared parts of the park in which rhinos have grazed for several decades to other areas which have been only recently recolonized. To measure the ways in which rhinos exert pressure on the environment, they measured the quantity of short grass lawns within high- and low-density rhino areas and the surface area covered by those lawns.

Both measurements revealed more short grasses in high-density rhino areas compared with spaces that have only recently seen rhino activity. In the African grassland, short grass cover is a useful metric for botanical heterogeneity. The more short grass lawns, the more diverse the landscape.

At first this might seem counterintuitive; if rhinos are intensely grazing the land, shouldn’t plant communities suffer? The key is to think of them less as lawnmowers and more as…selective lawnmowers. “In many grassland and savannah systems,” Gill explained to me, “grazers increase biodiversity, by selectively eating certain kinds of plants over others.” In her own research she’s found that North American bison eat grasses and ignore forbs. (Sunflowers and milkweed are both types of prairie forbs.) By trimming the grasses, the bison allow the forbs, which normally can’t compete for light and water, a fighting chance to survive. “There is a lot of research that suggests that [grazers are] really important for maintaining diversity, as well as the coexistence of trees and grasses, by creating a shifting patch mosaic on the landscape,” she says.

Take away the rhinos from the landscape and, according to this research, the landscape will suffer. Cromsigt and te Beest say that their study highlights some of the indirect, yet important, effects of the rhinopoaching crisis. “Not only is rhino poaching threatening the species conservation status,” they write, “but also the potentially key role of this apex consumer for savanna ecosystem dynamics and functioning.” – Jason G. Goldman | 19 February 2014

Source: Cromsigt J.P.G.M., te Beest M. & Bellingham P. (2014). Restoration of a megaherbivore: landscape-level impacts of white rhinoceros in Kruger National Park, South Africa, Journal of Ecology. DOI: 

Photo: White rhino via Flickr/Mike Showbiz.

Africa’s Anti-Poaching Problem

Reblogged from Foreign Affairs published by the Council on Foreign Relations.

“There is no doubt that commercial activity creates economic incentive to protect and conserve wildlife. What is not clear, is how this aggressive vision for an anti-poaching strategy actually works. Humanely ranching elephants and rhinos for ivory and rhino horn may not be possible at a rate that would satisfy current demand. However, this provocative article continues the conversation of how best to employ commercial conservation to it’s greatest advantage. I highly recommend reading this article if you are interested in real conservation in Africa.” ~Andrew Wyatt

How Wildlife Trade Bans Are Failing the Continent’s Animals
FEBRUARY 5, 2014
A White Rhino awaits buyers in a pen at the annual auction in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi national park, September 18, 2010. (Mike Hutchings / Courtesy Reuters)

Decades after more than 100 countries agreed to ban the rhinoceros horn trade in 1979, poachers are killing record numbers of the endangered species. In just 2013 alone, they slaughtered some 1,000 rhinos in South Africa, up from 668 in 2012. If the hunting continues at current rates, one of the conservation movement’s most famous mascots could be extinct within the next two decades. And rhinos are not alone. Many other animals — including elephants and tigers — are also facing the prospect of extinction, all in spite of long-standing trade bans.

In South Africa, police and national defense forces have become increasingly engaged in efforts to protect threatened wildlife, and the government has earmarked roughly $7 million in extra funding to ramp up security in its national parks. Yet poaching there has continued, just as it has throughout the continent. Last year alone, poachers killed a total of 22,000 elephants, the majority for tusks that were sold to feed rising demand in Asia.

Through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES), an international agreement among 179 countries, governments can vote to ban the trade of products from species threatened with extinction. But such trade bans are failing in large part because they have run into the same basic problem as the war on drugs. Prohibitions on trading wildlife products such as tusks and timber have ultimately made them more valuable. And criminal organizations have moved in and taken over the market, imposing high costs — through violence and corruption — on weak societies.

In some ways, this is an old story. As the American economist Thomas Schelling has argued, the United States’ prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s advantaged criminals by giving them “the same kind of protection that a tariff gives to a domestic monopoly.” As the demand for alcohol increased, prohibition guaranteed “the absence of competition from people who are unwilling to be criminal, and an advantage to those whose skill is evading the law.” Today, the United States spends an estimated $30 billion annually to combat the drug trade, yet illegal narcotics remain readily available on American streets.

Both the illegal wildlife and drug trades are now worth huge sums, the bulk of which ends up lining the pockets of criminal organizations, corrupt officials, and even terrorist groups. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the global policing organization Interpol, the illegal drug trade was worth an estimated $435 billion in 2013. Estimates suggest that the illicit wildlife trade, including logging and fishing, is worth around $130 billion — more than three times the size of Kenya’s entire GDP. And the profits have been substantial. Last year, Vixay Keosavang, a wildlife trader from Laos, sold rhino horn at $65,000 per kilo. He bought the horn in southern Africa for one-tenth of that price.

As the money has rolled in, poachers and smugglers have grown more sophisticated, investing in miniature armies. All across Africa, it is increasingly common for park rangers to skirmish with poachers. According to the charity Thin Green Line, poachers in Africa kill some 1,000 park rangers each year. And the fight is far from fair: The U.S. Congressional Research Service has reported that many poachers now use “night vision goggles, military-grade weapons, and helicopters.” By comparison, the rangers are often poorly equipped. And that makes trading in wildlife all the more attractive.


Conservation groups such as the World Wildlife Fund have long advocated for stiffer sentences and fines to deter poachers and traders. They are right that penalties could be tougher. Last year, an Irish court fined two traffickers just 500 euros ($676) for smuggling rhino horn worth 500,000 euros ($676,600). However, even high penalties do not necessarily deter all types of crime. Drug runners can face the death penalty in Southeast Asia, yet a seemingly endless stream of impoverished people sign up to act as drug mules anyway.

The appetite for illegal wildlife goods, meanwhile, shows no signs of abating. Ever since Asia’s economies took off in the 1990s, demand has soared. The prices of such items as rhino horns have followed, rising from roughly $1,000 per kilo in 1990 to around $65,000 per kilo today. Many Asian consumers believe that when used as a medicine, the horns can help cure cancer and detoxify the body. It does not matter how scientifically dubious such claims may be; they are simply a matter of faith. Just as drug addicts will go to any length for a fix, no matter the cost, those who believe that rhino horn can cure cancer will go to nearly any length to get their medicine. Never mind that such horns are made of the same material as human toenails.

Many buyers in Asia are motivated by prestige as well. In Vietnam and elsewhere, serving bush meat caught in the wild is a status symbol — as is owning elephant tusks, shahtoosh shawls made from endangered Tibetan antelope, and live orangutans as household pets. And such goods derive much of their appeal from being scarce and expensive — making demand for them insensitive to price hikes.

Outright bans, then, are not the answer. For this reason, the South African government plans to propose lifting the ban on trading rhino horn at the next CITES meeting in 2016. South African officials argue that a legal trade would take profits away from criminal syndicates. Just as taxes on cigarettes fund education and health programs in the United States, similar levies would also provide ample funds for campaigns to combat poaching and reduce demand. Meanwhile, regular de-horning of the animals would increase the global horn supply, lowering prices and the attraction of poaching. Rhinos produce nearly one kilogram of horn each year, which can easily be harvested through a simple veterinary procedure. Farming the animals ethically, moreover, would allow consumers to demand horn products from sustainably managed sources.

To legalize the rhino trade, South Africa will need a two-thirds majority among CITES members. It can expect to run into stiff opposition from a group that will likely include the United States, Kenya, and a number of European countries. Animal welfare groups will also push hard against legalization. That said, CITES already permits the trading of live rhinos and some limited hunting. In January, the Dallas Safari Club auctioned the right to hunt an old rhino in Namibia for $350,000. (One bidder withdrew his offer of $1 million — money that could have gone toward protecting rhinos — after receiving a death threat from an animal welfare extremist.) Such hunting fees can provide a critical source of revenue; in Namibia, they finance one-third of the government’s wildlife protection budget.

Peru embarked on a similar legalization process in 1979. To save the vicuña — a camelid that resembles a small llama — from extinction at the hands of hunters who prized its fine wool, the Peruvian government gave local communities the right to shear and market the animal’s wool. Now local herders protect the animals and also earn money from sale of their wool. Since then, the country’s vicuña population has grown from 5,000 animals — on the verge of extinction — to more than 200,000 today. CITES approved the policy in 1994.

Such a process of legalization, however, would not necessarily be a magic bullet. For a legal trade to work, governments would have to enforce a tight system of export permits and harvest quotas. Policing would still be needed to protect animals and forests. The success of a legal trade would also hinge on animal reproductive rates and the level of poverty in rural areas where the incentives to poach are high. But policymakers should heed the lessons of the drug wars. Bans fail because borders remain porous and officials corrupt. There is no wall high enough to counteract enormous financial rewards for breaking the rules to feed a voracious market.

Like the drug wars, restrictions on the animal trade reflect not only policy positions but also certain moral beliefs. Yet moralizing conservation organizations are typically based in wealthy countries and overlook the huge financial burdens that enforcement imposes on poor countries with already scarce resources. Such groups also minimize the potential benefits of taxing the wildlife trade, in the form of precious funds that would otherwise go to criminal outfits. Individual countries, then, will also have to make some informed decisions on their own. They would do well to consider what the United States has achieved in its war on drugs — now in its fourth decade.

Break the Link Between Terrorism Funding and Poaching

Reblogged from the Washington Post.

“The connection between terrorism and poaching… A must read for those interested in rhino and elephant conservation.” ~ Andrew Wyatt

By Johan Bergenas and Monica Medina, Published: January 31

Johan Bergenas is deputy director of the Managing Across Boundaries Initiative at the Stimson Center, a nonprofit and nonpartisan think tank that studies peace and security challenges around the world. Monica Medina is a former special assistant to U.S. defense secretaries Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel.Elephant

There is a new threat in the terrorist hotbed of Africa, and the U.S. military can do much more to combat it. Poaching of endangered elephants and rhinos has become a conservation crisis, and profits from wildlife crimes are filling the coffers of terrorist organizations. The twin crises should be cause for alarm for military leaders, not just conservation groups. They need to start working together before it is too late.

In the past two years, about 60,000 elephants and more than 1,600 rhinos have been slaughtered by poachers, according to reports from the Wildlife Conservation Society, theInternational Union for Conservation of Nature and others. About a thousand park rangers have died in the past decade defending the animals.

In 2014 there have already been 86 rhinos poached.

In 2014 there have already been 86 rhinos poached.

Illegal wildlife trade generates an estimated $19 billion a year — more than the illicit trafficking of small arms, diamonds, gold or oil. A July Congressional Research Service report found that a rhino horn is worth more than $50,000 per kilogram on the black market — more than gold or platinum. Sadly, poaching elephants and rhinos in Africa is easy money for terrorists, and they are cashing in.

One Elephant Action League undercover investigation in Kenya concluded that illegal ivory funds as much as 40 percent of the operations of al-Shabab, the group behind the November attack at a Nairobi shopping mallwhere 60 people were killed. The former director of the Kenyan Wildlife Service and theU.N. secretary general have drawn similar links between crime against wildlife and al-Shabab, al-Qaeda and the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army.

Last May, President Obama called for a new strategy to fight al-Qaeda and its affiliates. To be effective, these counterterrorism plans must engage not only African defense leaders but also conservation and development leaders. U.S. military plans for Africa should include ending elephant and rhino poaching to cut off a key source of funds for al-Qaeda and other terrorists.

A high-level summit on wildlife crimes, organized by the British government, Prince Charles and Prince William, is scheduled to take place this month in London. It is the perfect place to call for a new partnership between the defense and conservation communities.

As Obama’s national security team plans its next steps, it can follow Hillary Clinton’s lead. Before stepping down as secretary of state, Clinton commissioned an intelligence review of the impact of wildlife trafficking on national security. Completed last summer, the review prompted Obama to sign an executive order creating an interagency task force to develop an anti-poaching strategy. Due out this year, the strategy should include a greater military role in responding to this growing challenge.

Last year Congress gave the Pentagon permission to combat the Lord’s Resistance Army’s poaching and human-trafficking activities. That authority should be expanded to cover all terrorist groups, including al-Shabab.

Even without specific direction from Congress, the Defense Department and intelligence agencies should work with conservation groups to combat poaching, using new and inexpensive technologies to detect and deter terrorist activities and traffickers. Drones, satellite imagery, tracking devices and other high-tech tools could transform the fight to save elephants and rhinos, cheaply and effectively starving terrorists of the easy money they gain from wildlife crimes. Already, some African countries are asking for such tools.

Top U.S. defense officials should routinely discuss wildlife trafficking in meetings with African military leaders. The U.S. military’s post-Afghanistan plans must explicitly include poaching in Africa and illegal trafficking of wildlife as new “fronts” in the war on terror. Using technology to detect and deter poachers is a much less expensive way to fight terrorists than deploying Special Operations forces — and less dangerous to U.S. troops.

Finally, private-sector security and technology companies should be encouraged to work with African governments to deploy sensors, radars, unmanned aerial vehicles, satellites and other sophisticated data-gathering and detection systems. These types of defense technologies are needed to bolster borders, ports, roads, energy facilities and other economic infrastructure in Africa. Over the next few decades, the market for this infrastructure and societal security capacity is estimated to be at least $60 trillion, according to reports by McKinsey and others. By working now to protect African economic infrastructure, which includes endangered elephants and rhinos, technology companies could reap huge financial and public relations rewards.

Security technology, military capacity and market incentives are all waiting to be deployed to defeat terrorists and save wildlife in Africa — a huge potential win-win. Here’s hoping that Prince Charles and Prince William use this month’s summit to publicly call on military and industry leaders to join the fight to conserve rhinos and elephants.