Our Goal & Motive

The recent demand for rhino horn and the resulting resurgence in poaching has reached catastrophic levels. In South Africa 650 rhino have been slaughtered in 2014 alone. In proportion to its population, Kenya has lost even more. The situation is even more dire for elephant, with some estimates suggesting that 100 elephant a day are being killed across Africa.

 

The market price of rhino horn now rivals gold for value (approximately $65,000 a kilo) and it is estimated that the trade in illegal wildlife products is worth over $17 billion a year. In the Far East, rhino horn is sold in Vietnam and China, and to a lesser extent Laos, as traditional medicine. Despite having been scientifically proven to have no medicinal properties whatsoever (Rhino horn is comprised of keratin – the same substance as ones fingernails and hair), it continues to be in high demand with the wealthy elite – perhaps as much as a status symbol as the aphrodisiac or cure for cancer that it is purported to be.

With a price per kilo of over $1200 for ivory in the far east, Elephants too are victims of this senseless slaughter. Used for ornaments, the decimation of elephants is continent wide, and we are facing extinction of both these two species within a generation.

As a result of these inflated prices, the poachers have become ever more determined and motivated, using high caliber assault weapons and sophisticated night-vision to operate at night. The poachers in Kenya come from an underworld of illegal gunrunners, involved in all facets of gun-crimes in the country, including human-trafficking and drugs. It has even been suggested in the global media that there are links between revenue from poaching and terrorism organizations in Kenya, although there is as yet, no firm evidence to collaborate this.

As a result the pressure has mounted to extraordinary levels on both the national and private sectors involved with protecting these two iconic species. As the threat of poaching increases and becomes ever more sophisticated, so too must the determination and resources needed to protect rhino.

The biological management and monitoring of rhino and elephant and anti-poaching. Both require large numbers of highly trained and above all, trustworthy personnel to perform these tasks. The monitoring of rhino involves skilled tracking and perseverance in thick bush. Long hours are spent amongst elephant, buffalo and other dangerous animals in the pursuit of identifying and establishing the daily whereabouts and health of each individual rhino. The anti-poaching security team operates almost exclusively at night, in response to current trends of poachers. These men are on the front line and protecting these animals against heavily armed and ruthless gangs, as well as working in harsh, cold and uncomfortable conditions.

 

The trust placed in all these men is enormous. The temptation to receive large sums of money from poaching gangs for information as to the whereabouts of rhino or elephant is huge, and nearly all incidences of poaching within private conservancies in recent times can be attributed to inside information given to incoming poaching gangs.

As such, there is a huge need to keep our men safe and motivated, both for their welfare and for the welfare of the iconic species they risk their lives to protect. To do this, the quality of equipment, training and resources provided to them is paramount; not only for their own safety and their ability to protect wildlife, but also for the self-worth and loyalty they feel towards the difficult task they are faced with. Their loyalty to the ideal of conservation is crucial.

Despite increases in technology to aid the conservation of rhino and elephant, like drones and tracking chips, the most important part of protecting wildlife is “trusted boots on the ground” – men who are prepared and trained to work long hours monitoring and protecting rhino.

Wildlife security consists of two facets: armed anti-poaching units and the scouts who monitor the wildlife. The scouts operate in the daytime. They patrol designated zones, reporting in sightings and tracks of rhino to the monitoring supervisors as well as performing daily game counts. They patrol all conditions, and are crucial to not only the in depth knowledge of the wildlife on the conservancy, reporting injured or sick animals, but also the daily whereabouts of the rhino, and subsequently allow for the efficient deployment of the armed anti-poaching team. The anti poaching team operates almost exclusively at night, with the exception of special operations with specific intelligence reports. They consist of rapid response teams in a vehicle, and two-man standing patrols that are deployed on top of where rhino were last sighted. They are issued with govt weapons (7.62mm HK G3’s or FN’s) and are the last line of defence against poachin

 

All these men operate in tough conditions, and cover vast areas on foot each day. In order to do this they need top-quality clothing that is suited to the warm days, cold nights and tough terrain.

Good quality military clothing is not available in Kenya and has to be imported. This includes decent boots, socks and wet and cold weather gear. If they are not adequately equipped in their areas of operations they will cease to be effective at their jobs. They will also lose morale with the possibility of defecting to the poaching gangs.

Ideally it would be good for each man to be issued two sets of uniform every two years, whereas boots are worn out quickly, with men covering upwards of 30 km a day on foot, and two pairs a year are necessary, as well as three pairs of quality socks every year.

We hope to raise funds to ensure that all rangers are adequately equipped with good-quality basic equipment. These are the men that are risking their lives to save these two iconic species – we must do all we can to help them!

 

 

 

Our Goal and Motive

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