01 Jun 2018

Praise for troops undertaking countering poaching operation

The Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, has praised British Army personnel who are preparing to train park rangers in Malawi in techniques that will help them protect African elephants and for the first time, black rhinos from poachers.

Mr Williamson met several personnel at West Midlands Safari Park as they prepare to deploy to East Africa next month. The personnel met zoological experts at the park, which works with conservation bodies to help protect threatened species such as African elephants.

A specialist team of two dozen troops, drawn from a variety of British Army units, will spend weeks working alongside park rangers passing on expertise in areas such as tracking and counter insurgency tactics built up in previous operational tours in countries including Afghanistan.

Over the past year several British Army teams have worked in Gabon in the west of Africa and Malawi in east Africa to help park rangers improve their tracking of poachers. The training has allowed them to cover far larger distances as they attempt to find criminals who shoot the elephants and rhinos for their valuable ivory.

Mr Williamson said: “Our Armed Forces are a force for good around the world and are at the forefront of protecting the world’s most endangered species from criminal gangs.

“This evil trade is worth £17 billion and poses an existential threat to the planet’s most majestic mammals – it is our duty to preserve them for future generations.

“Britain is leading the way in putting an end to barbaric illegal wildlife poaching, and I’m proud of the immense contribution our Armed Forces are making in stopping criminals’ profiteering from the slaughter of rhinos and elephants.”

image © Crown Copyright

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