Saturday, May 26, 2012

Ex-Military Officer Helps in Battle Against Poaching

Ofir Drori; founder of the Last Great Ape

Earlier in one of my posts, I had written about a former CIA analyst who is now helping in the battle against poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. Now, there is a similar story involving a former Israeli military officer named Ofir Drori. Drori, who lives in Cameroon, is also the founder of LAGA (Last Great Ape), a non-governmental organization (NGO) named after the book of the same name, which he co-authored. The main purpose of this organization is to battle corruption, which according to Drori is the "major problem in fighting wildlife crime." Drori's love for wildlife began when he was a teenager, during which he traveled to Kenya between high school and the beginning of his military service. On his first day, he got lost and was found by a Masai family who adopted him. According Drori, it was then did he become fascinated with the wildlife and that the fascination turned him into an activist for the endangered species. He stated that Cameroon has lost 400 elephants to poachers, and that gorillas are suffering even worse. Since 2004, his team oversaw 50 prosecutions for ivory smuggling and 25 for gorilla poaching in Cameroon. His team consists of spies and informants, who pose as either consumers or traffickers and capturing video evidence of the illicit activities. In addition to Cameroon, Drori's program has also been copied in countries such as the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Gabon, Guinea, and Nigeria.

I'm extremely proud of what Mr. Drori has been doing in all these years with respect to fighting wildlife-related crimes. Not only does he battle poaching and the wildlife trade, but also corruption which is fueling these wildlife crimes in Africa. These people, who are the driving force behind such illicit activities, have such a high status that they are able to bribe the their way around the local governments. For this reason, I firmly believe that global corruption should be stopped. There are various other places in the world, including India, where corruption manipulates the nation's government such that even critically endangered wildlife suffer in the hands of mafia-like groups overexploiting the natural resources. I also believe that other countries in and outside of Africa should follow Mr. Drori's action in the battle against not just poaching and trafficking of wildlife, but also corruption.

View article and video here

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