Smart Tech, Eyes in the Sky to Stop Armed Groups Profiting in Congo Ivory



Date Published

Geospatial Mapping, Satellites and Predictive Analysis Combats Trafficking, Mass Elephant Slaughter in Garamba National Park
January 28, 2015 – A new report by the Enough Project, the Satellite Sentinel Project, African Parks, and DigitalGlobe details how leading edge technology, including satellite imagery and predictive analytics, can be a game-changer for park rangers working to halt an unprecedented slaughter of elephants for ivory in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  
The report, “Poachers without Borders: New Satellite Imaging and Predictive Mapping to Empower Park Rangers and Combat Ivory Traffickers in Garamba National Park”  (at that ivory trafficking in Garamba National Park is funding armed groups responsible for widespread atrocities. The report launches alongside an interactive dynamic microsite on elephant poaching in Garamba, freely available for use by other organizations and the general public (at According to African Parks, which manages Garamba on behalf of the Congolese government, 131 elephants were killed from April to December 2014.
The report also details how the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), renegade elements of the Congolese national army (the FARDC) and other armed groups from South Sudan and Sudan are using sophisticated techniques to evade detection of their poaching and trafficking activities, and makes recommendations for increased efforts to combat the illicit trade.
Kasper Agger, Enough Project LRA expert and Uganda-based field researcher, said: “Armed groups like the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army and the Somalia based Al Shabaab partly fund their deadly activities through the killing of elephants. Ivory is traded for weapons, ammunition, satellite phones and other items that sustain armed groups and the violence they perpetrate against civilians and communities. This new report shows that innovative use of technology fused with data from the ground can help close the net on armed poachers and transnational ivory trafficking networks.
John Prendergast, Enough Project Founding Director, said: “Unprecedented prices for ivory have attracted violent armed groups like the LRA, corrupt army officials, and transnational criminal networks to this lucrative trade. Not only do the armed groups kill elephants, but they are also responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses across Africa, including the use of child soldiers, targeting of innocent civilians, and sexual violence.”
African Parks, which manages Garamba National Park on behalf of the Congolese government, said: “According to the World Conservation Society, the pace of poaching is putting pressure on a continental elephant population that has declined more than 50 percent in the past 30 years. This increase in poaching is both qualitatively and quantitatively different from previous experience at Garamba.”
Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “Elephant poaching is now keeping Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army alive. To stop this, the park rangers in Garamba must be aided with greater U.S. and international assistance to help stop this deadly trade. The U.S. and the African Union must also help shut down the ivory trading centers in the region that are funding armed groups and poachers.”  
The report documents advanced geospatial analysis and remote monitoring via a constellation of five high-resolution earth imaging satellites. Results from this data and analysis help park rangers impede violent armed groups from trading ivory, allowing patrols to focus their efforts on high-probability threat areas. According to the report, this translates to a 95% area reduction where the majority of the recent poaching incidents have occurred.  The approach used in Garamba can be replicated for a larger effort by governments, African civil society organizations, international bodies, conservation groups and anti-atrocity organizations.
Read the full report “Poachers without Borders”:
More resources:
Enough Project report “Grand Theft Global: Prosecuting the War Crime of Natural Resource Pillage in the Democratic Republic of the Congo” (January 22, 2015):
Briefing on Lord’s Resistance Army illicit funding – “Kony to LRA: Bring me ivory, gold, and diamonds” (November 19, 2014):
For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Greg Hittelman, +1 310-717-0606,
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About the Enough Project
For media use, short version: “The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group.”
The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress aiming to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, Central African Republic, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more:
About the Satellite Sentinel Project
The Satellite Sentinel Project, co-founded by George Clooney and John Prendergast, is a partnership between the Enough Project and Not On Our Watch. SSP uses satellite imagery and forensic investigation to assess the human security situation, and detect, deter and document war crimes and crimes against humanity. SSP recently announced an expansion of its work to focus on the economic drivers of mass atrocities and human rights abuses, and to encompass some of the world’s most violent regions of conflict, including Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic.  For more information on the Satellite Sentinel Project, please visit
About African Parks
African Parks is a non-profit organization that takes on direct responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks, in partnership with governments and local communities. African Parks currently manages seven parks in six countries – Chad, Congo, DRC, Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia – with a combined area of 4.1 hectares. To learn 
About DigitalGlobe
DigitalGlobe (NYSE: DGI) is a leading provider of commercial high-resolution earth observation and advanced geospatial solutions that help decision makers better understand our changing planet in order to save lives, resources and time. Sourced from the world’s leading constellation, our imagery solutions deliver unmatched coverage and capacity to meet our customers’ most demanding mission requirements. Each day customers in defense and intelligence, public safety, civil agencies, map making and analysis, environmental monitoring, oil and gas exploration, infrastructure management, navigation technology, and providers of location-based services depend on DigitalGlobe data, information, technology and expertise to gain actionable insight. To learn more:
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