British soldiers have been deployed to Kenya to join the fight to stop ivory poaching by terrorists.
Extremists linked to Al Qaeda are funding their attacks by selling the valuable elephant tusks and rhino horns on the £12billion-a-year black market.
Al Shabaab, the militant Islamist group behind the Westgate shopping centre massacre in Nairobi last year, is believed to be one of the key players behind the rise in poaching.
A total of 25 troops from the 3rd Battalion The Rifles will be sent to Nanyuki, 160 miles north of Nairobi, to provide training to Kenyan rangers, but will not be involved in operations against poachers.
Already in the past year, 60 wardens and 38,000 elephants have been killed by poachers as ivory prices spiral.
Last year Prince William urged leaders to save ‘some of the world’s most captivating species’, and Hillary Clinton unveiled a £50million plan to tackle elephant poaching.
Brigadier Duncan Francis, the Defence Attache based in Nairobi said: ‘This is an excellent example of the British Army taking positive action on an issue that is close to many people’s hearts.
‘The soldiers involved in this training will be making an immense contribution to securing the future of some of the world’s most endangered species.’
In the past year, 60 wardens and 38,000 elephants have been killed by illegal poachers.
Because the price of ‘blood ivory’ – illegally poached tusks – is spiralling in Africa, poaching gangs are developing fresh techniques to slaughter animals in huge numbers, such as poisoning watering holes.
It is estimated that Al Shabaab can earn £400,000 a month in the sickening trade – enough to pay their jihadists £75 a week.
In a bid to quash the business, Hillary Clinton unveiled an $80million plan to tackle elephant poaching in September last year.
She warned that money from the wildlife crime could have funded the attack in Nairobi plus a spate of other atrocities, a theory supported by elephant conservation groups.
Rhinos are also highly prized by terrorists, with the price of single horns higher than its weight in cocaine. The horns are highly sought after in Asia, where it is used in traditional medicines.
The Kenyan government has said every rhino in the country will have a microchip implanted in its horn to help stop the trade.