By Jack Douglas Jr. Senior Investigative Producer, CBS 11 News
April 7, 2015 11:08 AM

U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, a Fort Worth Republican, has been recognized for her work to fight the illegal poaching of wild animals throughout the world – a dangerous practice that she says can fund terrorism.

Rhinos and elephants, such as the ones you can see in North Texas zoos, are among the animals in danger of becoming extinct because thousands of them are being hunted down for their tusks and horns, said Granger, honored at the Fort Worth zoo by the World Wildlife Fund.

Granger, who is chairwoman of the State and Foreign Operations subcommittee in Congress, told CBS 11 News that the global killing of wildlife puts humans at risk as well.

As the international community works to close down bank accounts used by terrorists, the lucrative practice of poaching wildlife has been seen as a way to fund future attacks, experts fear.

Noting that a single elephant tusk has a black market price tag of $56,000, Granger, in a statement to CBS 11, said “the killing of just one middle-aged elephant” could have been enough to fund the deadly terrorist attacks in 1998 of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and in Dar es Salaam – with $6,000 left over.

“This kind of black market financing is a real concern especially as criminal poaching networks become more sophisticated in the weapons and equipment they use to illegally poach rhinos and elephants for their ivory …,” Granger said in the statement.

Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund, said “the reason the U.S. has put serious money behind solving this problem is because a handful of people in our government are committed to addressing it …and none more so than Kay Granger.”

Roberts also said “the poaching of rhinos in South Africa has increased from a dozen rhinos killed in 2007 to over 1,200 last year – a 10,000 percent increase – all because of organized crime syndicates.”