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In the final minutes he discusses the time he was shot at when crossing from Central African Republic into Cameroon.
Give it a listen over the weekend. The sound quality is a bit rough for short periods, but recovers quickly.
Let’s be honest; Malawi has been hit harder by poaching than many countries. However, although one of the poorest countries in Africa, it is also known for its friendly, hard-working and peaceful people. It has been known for many years as “The Warm Heart Of Africa”, a title that suits the beautiful place perfectly.
I was fortunate to live in Malawi as a child. I remember clearly the first time I tried to track lions on my own. I was eleven years old and a pride had passed along the river that ran along the bottom of my aunt’s garden on their farm North of Mzuzu, close to the Tanzanian border.
“Farm” was hardly an apt description, although they did grow tobacco. My cousins and I spent our days chasing around the bush looking for animals and playing with the children from the local villages. There were a variety of pets, including a four-foot African rock python, two tiny grysbok deer, a duiker, a crazy African Wild Cat, amongst other orphaned creatures that constantly came and went.
I had spotted the lion tracks while looking for snakes with a couple of Tumbuka kids and, whilst I had decided that it would be a damn fine idea to follow them, my friends declared me mad and left. So, off I went.
Fortunately for me I didn’t catch up to the lions before it started getting too late and I was forced to turn back and head home. Thank goodness I did or I most likely would not be writing this now. Anyone who has seen a lion’s reaction to just a child’s voice from a game-drive vehicle, or when seeing them through a fence, will know how appealing children are to them, in the worst possible way..
I have many vivid memories of Malawi from my childhood, some sad and many happy. One thing I will never forget is the majestic beauty of the place and the stunning diversity of habitats and animals. From montane forests, to the magnificent lake, to the teeming wildlife. Where in the world could an eleven year old come across lion tracks at the bottom of the garden on the banks of a wild river with gorgeous mountains rising up behind?
The wildlife no longer exists along that river, or anywhere in that district.
I saw a poacher for the very first time in Malawi. He was driving a truck loaded with skins and meat past my uncle’s property across the border into Tanzania. I remember the ivory carvers who openly plied their trade on the main street of Blantyre. Even with those signs, I would never in my childhood have imagined the terrible scourge that would obliterate the once mighty herds of elephants that roamed freely.
Many countries in Africa are in this situation, but Malawi is different in some important ways. It is saying no to poaching and taking a real stand. Firstly, the country needs tourism, 60% of the country’s foreign currency earnings. There are no diamonds, there is no gold, and there is little local industry. Tourism is one of the few ways for the country to earn sorely needed foreign currency.
Secondly, the country and its parks are relatively small. They are not gigantic areas that have just been left to themselves. They can be effectively protected more easily than some of the massive wildlife areas in neighbouring countries that would require legions of rangers to patrol them.
Thirdly, and most importantly, it has the political will. The government, at the highest levels, actually wants to put a stop to poaching, and to teach its people the importance of wildlife. The country recently decided to included teaching in its schools on the importance of wildlife and the reasons that poaching is wrong. Incredible.
I recently conducted a training course for the heads of the anti-poaching units for all the parks in the country. At the passing out parade the minister of tourism stood up to make his speech. I almost fell over when I heard it. He openly and honestly listed the failings of his country in the past to protect its wildlife, even listing the decline in numbers of key species. That was nothing though.. he then announced that we had uncovered a couple of rangers involved in poaching, something we were of course keeping secret from the outside world, and he told the gathered crowd that they would be made an example of and shown “no mercy”. Wow, after all my years in wildlife and conservation and running around this continent, this was the first time I ever heard a politician speak like this. I was then asked to step forward as he would like to thank me personally for my work and for the support and work of the organizations that paid for and arranged me to be there, Chengeta Wildlife and Lion ALERT.
He shook my hand, and, looking me straight in the eye, he said, “Please tell your colleagues that we do not take this for granted and we are going to show the world that we can win this”.
I train rangers to locate and arrest poachers and traffickers. Usually it is pretty thankless work and one often has to fight frustration and even depression because of the lack of support and the apathy of governments and even the men, but most especially the public and the leaders. This government however is determined to win and the rangers themselves are second to none.
I heard as a child the stories of the brave men of the King’s African Rifles fighting the Japanese in Asia. Nyasaland as Malawi was known in those days was renowned for the bravery and dedication of the soldiers who originated there and served in the two battalions raised by the British to fight in far away places. I have seen for myself why the Malawians were so sought after. They are tough, they are determined, they are hard working and they are brave. They also have an amazing sense of humour, which invariably shows itself when most needed to raise spirits. They may be poor in some ways but when it comes to spirit they are amongst the wealthiest.
Malawi doesn’t have money for drones and helicopters. They have realised they have to be clever they have to be willing to do what is necessary, and that is what they are doing. Working with the communities, they have a “revenue sharing system” which gives 25% of revenues from the park to the communities around the area.
During the recent training we actually took down a whole poaching syndicate, with buyers and traffickers and identified several others in their entirety. Rarely do you hear of such successes in countries with much better equipment and funding.
The difference is this; everybody at all levels in the Malawi Department of National Parks and Wildlife is determined to win. From the Minister down to the Director and on down to the men on the ground. There are a few bad eggs but they will be dealt with “mercilessly”, I have no doubt; and those wonderful rangers are going to carry on arresting poachers.
Why? Because they have the support of their leaders, they are good, brave, determined men and they are willing to learn from others how to get it done.
Thank you Chengeta Wildlife and Lion ALERT for making it all possible.
Rory does the dangerous physical work in the bush, but he also meets with high level government officials to explain our doctrine and training.
He is in the bush for 3 weeks for this training session, away from his wife and two young children, missing the first day of school for his kids this year. Three weeks must seem like forever to those two little ones.
He will only accept a subsistence wage from Chengeta to make our funding stretch as far as possible even though he is worth 10x that rate.
Marjet, Rory’s wife, is back home doing her budget stretching. She is often called on to help Chengeta too. Right now she is having Chengeta t-shirts printed for the Malawi rangers receiving our training.
Just wanted to take a moment to recognize the sacrifices that Rory and his young family are making to do this work.
A huge THANK YOU to Joe Chernov, Robin Richards and Leslie Bradshaw for creating the infographic below for Rory Young and Chengeta Wildlife!
Please share our new infographic with any media contacts you have and everywhere on social media!
You really did wonders and really saved the day for us Ellen, through the very large donation that you and Mike made and through your efforts to gather support for Chengeta.
Here is a small message of thanks and a little surprise for you:
February 18, 2014
We’ve pulled into a rest stop, probably one of only a few in the entire Ngorogoro Conservation Area. I saw a few large elephants on the way in, larger and closer than I’ve seen so far, so while the others are inside, I’m darting about the carpark, hoping to catch sight of the magnificent creatures.
And then I see them. Gray shapes slowly moving through a grove of trees, delicately feeding. It’s impossible to count how many there are as they wend their way through the vegetation–now you see them, now you don’t. I would guess about eight mothers and calves, but I never see all of them at one time, so it’s hard to say. For something so big they are very good at hiding.
They’re obviously a group. There is some dimension of communication happening that I can’t tune in on, but it doesn’t matter. They know what they are doing. They’ve been doing it for so long now.
The young ones sometimes do the adorable things that young elephants do; sometimes the mothers respond, sometimes they are ignored.
As I stand and watch, what I see before me seems almost like a staged drama, so graceful and precise are the movements of these huge animals as they feed. An elephant drama, played to an elephant script, in elephant time.
And then, slowly, they are gone. I can’t quite see where they went, but they are definitely not here any more.
On the way back to camp I wonder if I saw real animals, or was it just ghosts?
Let’s make this the play that never ends. Contribute to:
Terrorists Are Targeting Africa’s Elephants
A KWS ranger was Monday night shot dead by suspected poachers after an exchange of fierce fire as the latter tried to forcefully gain entry into Ol-Jogi ranch in a rhino hunting mission.
The 25-year-old Paul Harrison Lelesepei was in company of other rangers guarding the rhino sanctuary when they were attacked by the poachers.
Confirming the incident, KWS senior warden in charge of Mt. Kenya region, Aggrey Maumo, said that the rangers were patrolling the ranch along the borderline adjacent to the Lol-daiga hills when they were ambushed by the poachers.
Maumo said that a gun fight ensued and it was then that the ranger was caught in the crossfire; he later succumbed to the bullet wound as he was being rushed to the Nanyuki Teaching and Referral Hospital.
The body was taken to Nanyuki hospital mortuary.
He noted that on the fateful night there were two groups of poachers in the region, one group had already gained access into the ranch while the other was still outside, the rangers, without the knowledge of another group inside, opened fire to the group outside, with both groups returning fire, thus sandwiching the rangers.
However, the rangers still managed to overwhelm the antagonists, who beat a hasty retreat; no arrest have been made so far though there are some potential leads that could lead to the arrest of the notorious gang.
Maumo further said that all rhino sanctuaries in Laikipia have become a target for poachers, with Ol-Jogi being the worst hit, already having five rhinos killed in the past six months.
Last week, KWS wildlife conservation deputy director, Robert Njue, noted that rhino poaching will be countered using all security arsenal available and urged the public to volunteer intelligence report that can lead to arrest of poachers.
Njue said that they have deployed rangers to all sanctuaries in the region to counter poaching activities, adding that the fight against poaching also includes all security personnel; including police, Kenya policereservists and community rangers.
What makes an Elephant so special?
The scientists have compared the emotional intelligence of an Elephant to a child. They grieve for the loss of their loved ones just as we humans do.
It is saddening that for our ridiculous superficial wants we are on the verge of wiping off a majestic creature from the planet.
Is anybody doing anything?
How do they do it:
Rory Young has formed an alliance with Jacob Alekseyev, an American living in Zambia. Alekseyev is a former Major and Federal Agent of the US Air Force, Office of Special Investigations. Together they have worked out a plan of action to stop poaching in the Zambezi River Valley.
Website : http://chengetawildlife.o
Terrorists are equipping poachers with state of the art weaponry. So, everyday is a struggle for men who are trying to save an elephant from being hunted down.
There are hundreds of people like me all over the globe that have lent a helping hand and have associated to raise a voice for the cause. Let’s not underestimate the power of a collective.
The Elephant crisis demands a global movement!
It is okay to look away but stupid to believe that they are a concern of only a particular nation and people.
Chengeta Wildlife supports and funds the training of wildlife protection teams in Africa.
Rangers and scouts are brave men who risk their lives to protect wildlife. They may face heavily armed poachers, sometimes ex-guerrilla fighters hired by ivory smuggling syndicates. These rangers need to have the best training and anti-poaching strategy possible and that is what we provide.
Rory Young is an expert professional tracker with knowledge and practical ability gained over many years in the bush. Since his childhood, he has developed an amazing database of knowledge and skills and a highly developed intuition to become one of the best in his field. By looking at human tracks or “spoor” he can form a description of a person. Approximate height, weight, age, how fast they are traveling, if they are fit, when they were in the area and if they were carrying a load. At times he can tell if they are carrying weapons. His training is highly sought after.
Young has formed an alliance with Jacob Alekseyev, an American living in Zambia. Alekseyev is a former Major and Federal Agent of the US Air Force, Office of Special Investigations. Together they have worked out a plan of action to stop poaching in the Zambezi River Valley.
Board of Directors
Sanjay Sabnani, Ben Fraser, Lisa Groeneweg, Rory Young
Board of Advisors