Poaching in Africa Becomes Increasingly Militarized


| 12/27/2016 9:12:00 AM


Tags: Poaching, Mongabay, Environment,

Elephant in South Africa
Photo by Rhett  A. Butler

• Due to skyrocketing consumer demand, particularly from Asia, today’s wildlife traffickers have the resources to outfit their henchmen with weaponry and equipment that often outmatches that of the local park rangers.

• The poachers doing the most damage in Africa today are employed by professional trafficking syndicates, and they enjoy a level of support and financial backing unimaginable during earlier poaching crises.

• The poachers’ arsenal includes the expanding use of military-grade equipment like helicopters, machine guns, infrared scopes, and heavy armored vehicles.

 

On January 29, a 37-year-old Englishman and ardent conservationist named Roger Gower was piloting a helicopter over Tanzania’s Maswa Game Reserve when he spotted the corpse. With safari guide Nick Bester at his side, Gower, who worked for the nongovernmental Friedkin Conservation Fund, slowly circled the hacked and bloody elephant carcass below. Rangers on the ground had alerted them that gunfire had been heard the previous day, and here was the awful result. The men couldn’t see the poachers, but the dead elephant’s tusks were still intact; they were likely still nearby.