UK Soldiers Will Be Sent To Africa To Help End Animal Poaching
The UK has announced a massive £900,000 ($1,190,560) in funding to help develop a new British military counter-poaching taskforce.
The news was revealed on the first day of the international Illegal Wildlife Trade conference, which is taking place in London on 11-12 October, bringing together international political leaders, conservation organisations and individuals from over 80 nations.
Building on the success of a previous UK project training rangers in Gabon and Malawi, the scheme will see operatives deployed to train African park rangers, teaching them about more effective and safer ways to help counter poaching - providing support for intelligence mapping, interception tracking tactics and operations management.
UK Environment Secretary, Michael Gove said: "The illegal wildlife trade is one of the most serious issues of organised crime facing the world. In the last year alone more than 100 rangers were killed on the front line of the fight against poachers - as an international community we must do everything we can to support their vital work. The ranger programme we are funding provides professional training and builds capability to tackle this crime across Africa.
"This demonstrates the UK's global leadership and delivers our commitment in the 25-Year Environment Plan."
Planning is currently underway to decide which countries and parks across Africa will receive the British Army's help over the next year. Assistance can be tailored to the specific needs of a given park, consisting of base-located training like command and control or paramedic, as well as a partnering model where UK soldiers will live and operate with rangers.
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The UK soldiers, meanwhile, will also be able to improve their own skills in tracking and bushcraft.
UK Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, said: "The training we already provide has made a significant difference to the protection of some of the planet's most magnificent wildlife.
"As the British Army now takes its world-renowned training further across Africa, those responsible for this abhorrent practice should be looking over their shoulders."
Maj James Cowen, who led the deployment in Malawi, added: "Having seen the beauty of these animals up close, and how at risk their survival is due to poaching, we are more determined than ever to stop these criminals in their tracks."
Estimated to be worth up to £17 billion a year, environmental crime - which includes the illegal wildlife and logging trades - is the fifth most lucrative serious organised crime, meaning that the new project could well be a step in the right direction.
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Featured Image Credit: PA