Text by Sarah Todd, photography by Chris Collyer and Nick Murray
The rangers have little sympathy towards armed elephant poachers: “In the rhino wars of the 1980s over 200 rangers were shot by poachers, so the policy is shoot first. Five poachers have been shot dead in the last two years, and several have been wounded and arrested. In many instances operations are carried out in conjunction with the police and the border control people, so arrested poachers are dealt with by the police and the courts. Since we have been supporting Parks in their efforts we have assisted in 85 arrests, resulting in those poachers being handing down a total of over 750 years of sentences”.
As well as a notable reduction in elephant poaching, eighteen live pangolins have been recovered, along with more than 120 elephant tusks. Although the tusks mean elephants have been poached, recovering ivory from poachers is considered a deterrent to future would-be poachers.
“Obviously the best results are when we can record a no carcass or death report of elephant over any given time period, such as the time when we went eight months with no carcasses”, Nick admits. “That result came with a much higher coverage of the area than previously, so technically the more area covered the more carcasses should have been found. Thankfully this was not the case”…