British Troops Tracking Endangered Rhino Poachers

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Elite British forces trained to track enemy forces across hundreds of miles of open terrain will deploy in Africa to curb the illegal ivory trade.

The experts will set up and lead special squads in counter-insurgency tactics learned from tackling terror groups in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The deployment will start in Malawi from June 2018.

The British Army soldiers will train national park rangers to hunt down poachers responsible for killing hundreds of animals for their tusks and horns.

Defence Secretary Gavin 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 such as elephants and rhinos from criminal gangs.

Evil trade worth £17 billion

“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 the 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.

“The government is also introducing one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory, showing how seriously we take this issue.”

Malawi is not the first animal protection deployment for British troops. Units have also tracked poachers selling ivory to fund terrorism in Gabon.

Working with British soldiers has helped park rangers track poachers over much longer distances in a bid to curb their activities.

Incredibly welcome

Elephants were the focus of previous missions, but the Malawi operation will extend to cover endangered rhinos as well.

Major James Cowen, who will lead the troops in Malawi, said: “We’re enthusiastic about this mission because it represents a real opportunity to pass on our expertise and build partnerships with counterparts who are working night and day to help protect these animals.”

The first British unit will number 20 troops who will train 120 park rangers

“Where we’ve done it already it’s been incredibly welcomed, and actually the locals have seen what a difference it can make in terms of helping and supporting them,” said Williamson.

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