Lately, there has been a lot of news about trophy hunters killing many exotic species. In sync with this trend, a group of retired US veterans who are trained and armed to hunt poachers are trying to solve this issue in Africa.
Poaching presents serious problems for already vulnerable wild animal species across the globe and this is especially true in Africa, where many of world’s most rare and amazing species reside and originate. According to the African Wildlife Foundation, rhinos, elephants, and other types of African wildlife may go extinct in our lifetime.
Black Rhino’s natural population has decreased by a disturbing 97.6% just since 1960
Some drastic actions must be taken to change the course of our current route on the planet. One such effort is a non-profit project called VETPAW (Veterans Empowered To Protect African Wildlife). VETPAW activists enlist retired veterans to invest their years of training and experience by going to Africa in order to protect wildlife from poachers who seek to hunt and capture these creatures for a variety of reasons.
Special attention was given to Kinessa Johnson, a US Army veteran whose 4 years of service in Afghanistan equipped her well to serve wildlife through this nonprofit organisation. Kinessa is part of a team who arrived in March and she says “We’re going over there to do some anti-poaching and do some good.”
On March 26th Johnson and the team arrived in Tanzania, launching immediately into action. The team reports that they have already seen a decrease in poaching because of the presence and reputation of the team. The team’s primary focus is to provide training to the park rangers and to join them in patrolling the premises.
It is reported that park staff need a lot of help. Johnson explains, “They lost about 187 guys last year over trying to save rhinos and elephants.” Johnson and the team will be training the rangers in marksmanship, field, medicine, and counter-intelligence among other useful skills.
Jonson, like others on the team, joined the VETPAW team as an expression of her love for animals and because of the obvious need to help Africa in particular as it is the continent experiencing the highest rates of poaching across the world, leaving endangered and other species vulnerable to illegal human predation.
Educating the locals about protecting their natural resources is most important
The capital gained from the black market trade of illegal endangered animal parts winds up funding war and terrorist activity in Africa and trying to decrease poaching will hopefully decrease it.
Johnson says, “After the first obvious priority of enforcing existing poaching laws, educating the locals on protecting their country’s natural resources is most important overall.”
Using social media as a platform, Kinessa Johnson also supports the cause by raising awareness and funds through Facebook and Twitter by having more than 44,000 followers. On her profiles she shares beautiful and amazing photos of African wildlife as well as updates on the activity of her team.