UN Security Council sanctions target wildlife traffickers in central Africa for 1st time

The U.N. Security Council has approved two sanctions resolutions that for the first time target illegal wildlife traffickers with links to armed groups in central Africa.

A resolution renewing an arms embargo and financial sanctions against armed groups in Congo included individuals who finance those groups through wildlife trafficking.

The council approved the Congo resolution Thursday, two days after it included similar language in a sanctions resolution against armed groups in the Central Africa Republic.

Diplomats and conservationists hailed the step as a major shift on a problem once considered solely an environmental issue.

Wendy Elliott, species manager for the conservation group WWF, says the resolutions recognize that wildlife trafficking has become a major security threat in Africa, where the illegal trade is funding militias.