Tartan army sent in to protect elephants from poachers
Soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland, the Rifles and other specialist corps headed to Gabon to take on poachers driving the nation’s elephant population to extinction.
Last night the Ministry of Defence confirmed the pilot exercise would be “the first of many” as the war against ivory hunters intensifies. The troops spent almost six weeks training Gabonese rangers in how to seek and destroy poachers hunting Africa’s remaining forest-dwelling elephants.
The 12-strong squad based themselves in a remote jungle outpost nine hours from the country’s capital, Libreville, and an hour from the nearest village.
From their base, they helped train a new task force of 61 “eco-rangers” and gendarmes. Major Mark Shercliff told this month’s edition of Soldier Magazine: “The objective for us is not military training, but to impart military skills and techniques.
Patrolling in the jungle is hard work – the rangers are generally very experienced at living in the jungle but lack the tactical know-how to handle an armed adversary confidently.
“They are very robust characters but we will help improve their attention to equipment and planning – including emphasis on carrying water and emergency equipment. “The eco-guards and gendarmes work in the most poached parks, mostly in the border areas of the country.
There are a handful of native trackers here too – incredibly tough people.”
Though the ivory trade was banned in
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