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Check out that lovely progress bar. Chengeta supporters are the best!
Just $1,975 more in donations until our matching funds are fully utilized. That will bring our total to $38,467! Our best campaign to date:
Rory Young has completed our second training session in Mali.
RORY: “I wouldn’t be achieving anything without all the sacrifice and support of the Chengeta team and supporters. These are “our” achievements, not “my” achievements!”
Unfortunately Rory became very ill with gastroenteritis and malaria the day before he was to fly home to his family. After IV meds and fluids he was able to leave a couple of days later than scheduled, but it will take some time for him to fully recover. The sacrifices made by Rory and his family are many.
Of course he makes light of it:
RORY: “Unfortunately, the recent BBC report on the earth-shattering finding (in my world) from Ethiopia to the effect that the smell of live chickens deters mosquitoes arrived too late for me.
I managed to go down with a bout of Malaria, nicely followed up by the dreaded lurgy (sometimes known as gastroenteritis). Other members of the noble poultry family, the quacks, have advised me that there is still more evil lurking within and have advised further blood sucking in order to identify this last member of this fowl trinity.
Whilst dwelling on my misery (and making the most whilst it last of every drop of sympathy I can winge out of my beloved) I am seriously considering entering future anti poaching missions with a chicken on my shoulder and a cork in my pocket…”
This was the first time we worked with Matt Croucher in the field. We are excited to continue partnering with him and his non-profit, Action Against Poaching. Can you imagine the logistics necessary to get his dummy/training mines and IED’s onto flights to Mali?
FROM RORY: “In ops C-IED and Anti-Mine Training in Mali with Matt Croucher GC.
Rangers in Mali need to know how to spot and deal with mines and IED’s to keep themselves, the community and the Elephants alive.
WILD Foundation are partnered with Chengeta Wildlife and Action Against Poaching providing in-ops training to the Malian Anti Poaching Brigade in intelligent and responsible methods.
This is possibly the most dangerous anti-poaching mission in the world. Rangers not only have to deal with attacks by poachers but also by terrorists and bandits, using IED’s, landmines, heavy machine guns, rocket propelled grenades. Last month one ranger was burned alive and his colleague shot outside their home whilst on down time.
Despite all if this, the answer still comes down to community. The reasonable man. So far the Elephants have survived thanks to WILD Foundation’s intelligent work with the communities. The rangers and other armed forces provide the necessary support to deal with the criminal and terrorist elements threatening both the communities and the Elephants they are striving to protect.
A model for all of Africa. Intelligent Anti-poaching.”
The photos in this post are courtesy of Angie Ra, (pictured above) a filmmaker documenting our Mali work and the work of rangers protecting wildlife across Africa. Angie’s Facebook page: “Boots on The Ground”
A Burpee chin-up challenge has been thrown down! Take a look, friends!
Hailing from Bern, Switzerland, standing at 5’6″, fighting weight 132 lbs, a young man of 23 years, coached by the legendary Aaron Ellis. He’s been training for months folks. As a medical student, he’s got a trick or two up his sleeve. Our challenger: Bhavesh…”Doll Face”…AGGARWAL!!!!!
In the ranger’s corner hailing from the wilds of the African bush, standing at 6′, fighting weight more than 132lbs, 43 years old. He has been trained by adversity – he chews bullets for breakfast and takes down poachers at a rate of 81 arrests in 12 days. He’s been in training since his birth in Zambia. Accepting the challenge on behalf of those who protect wildlife everywhere: Rory…”Roarin’ Rory”…YOUNG!!!!
Here’s how it works:
To make things more interesting we have added incentives to the crowdfunding campaign. These incentives also apply to pledges made on the burpee chin-up competition. These prizes will be awarded only if our campaign tips. Remember we lose the thousands already pledged if our campaign doesn’t reach the tipping point!
$500 donation – Skype call with Rory. Ask Rory a question related to his anti-poaching work or talk about the latest in bush wear or both. It’s up to the two of you what you discuss.
$250 contribution – Rory will record a video shout out to you from the bush to be uploaded to Chengeta Wildlife’s Youtube channel. Get your friends, family or co-workers to contribute small amounts towards the goal and get a group shout out!
$100 donation – An approved photo of you or your group will be added to the “Honorary Ranger” gallery on Chengeta Wildlife’s website.
Vote for the man you think will win the challenge in the comments. Those who pick the right gentleman will be featured in a video from Rory and Bhavesh. Videos of the burpee chin-up competition will be posted after our funding campaign ends on Thursday. Only 4 days left to pledge!
The battle of the decade has begun, ladies and gentlemen. On the one hand, we have experience, mental focus, and years of relentless training. On the other, we have an iron will, enthusiasm, and street cred. Both equipped with a killer instinct and a sense of purpose, this will be a face off for the title of the top badass. Who will it be? The honey badger born and bred in the concrete jungle, or the ranger raised in Mother Nature’s own cradle? Place your bets, folks!
and have needed to take a break in order to organize our new base in Europe. Thank you everybody for all the support and patience. We are all very grateful for the assistance and kind words that we have received regarding the Zimbabwe Central Intelligence Organizations harrassment and threats, our departure from Zimbabwe, my father’s passing away and the difficulties of changing home, country, continent and language.
“What doesn’t kill fattens” said Nietsche. We are already moving onwards and upwards and I can assure everybody that Marjet and I are more determined than ever to do whatever we can to help save Africa’s wildlife, its wild areas and to harmonize nature and communities.
Knowing that my family are safe and secure in a peaceful and stable country when I am out chasing around poachers is a huge relief to me and will allow me to focus on what needs to be done when I am out there rather than worrying whether they are okay.
There has been so much doom and gloom lately I thought you might appreciate a bit of a laugh… The following video “interview” was done by one of the rangers under my instruction in the middle of ops in a “hot” area which will remain unnamed. We were all exhausted tense and taking a break by having a little laugh on camera. (We have a lot more footage that we are preparing, including a lot of exciting stuff…)
Thank you all again and enjoy!
P.S. If you are struggling to get friends, relatives or neighbours to donate to our fundraiser then please try threats and blackmail!
Written by Jamie Joseph on Savingthewild.com
It’s twilight in Malawi when I catch Rory Young on the phone, camped out with his fellow rangers somewhere deep in the African bush. There is a sense of urgency in his voice, like he has many important things to tell me, but really there is so much more work to be done.
“Let’s just focus on the task at hand,” he interrupts me when I deviate, commenting I had read that when he was just 17 years old he was, at the time, possibly the youngest person to have ever earned his wings in the French Foreign Legion.
“There have been 81 poaching arrests in just under two weeks,” Rory continues. “If we had been shooting first and asking questions later we would have dealt with only a fraction of this number and would have almost certainly sustained casualties.”
Populations of elephants in Malawi have halved in recent years, and the government has now decided enough is enough. They have committed to burning their entire ivory stockpile, symbolically important, and there are plans to include conservation in the school curriculum, teaching children the importance of wildlife and the real value of wildlife to tourism and the country’s economy. There is now political will.
Zambian born Rory Young has been tracking Africa’s wild ever since he was a little boy. In Zimbabwe he successfully completed a five year rigorous apprenticeship to become a forest ranger, of which only 5% pass. After more than two decades tracking in the field, and suddenly in the midst of another poaching crisis, it was crystal clear to him that a lot of the people who had fought in the first war on poaching in the eighties were now retired, or had been replaced by younger, less experienced rangers who had grown up after the counter insurgency operations of his generation, and who had no training or experience in the very specific skills needed to overcome such a crisis.
This was the seed from which Chengeta Wildlife was born, an organisation that raises money to train wildlife protection teams, because, frankly, throughout most of Africa there simply aren’t the funds available to properly upskill rangers, and so the death toll continues to rise, for both animals and humans.
The key here is pragmatic doctrine. In the race to stop the blood flow, right across Africa ex military are taking military doctrine and trying to apply it to anti poaching.
“It does not work,” says Rory. “In anti poaching you do not have a military structure. Each man in a military unit plays his part, whereas in anti poaching the reality is the men need to be incredibly versatile because they are operating independently in small groups in isolated areas. Through our Chengeta network of expertise we have created a doctrine very specific to anti poaching, and then we further tailor it to each park. Part of this doctrine is teaching rangers all the skills that would collectively be taught to the military, or the police, or intelligence agencies; how to go undercover and gather information from other sources, how to do reactive investigations, how to analyse all of the information gathered and then take that information and plan future operations. We teach them all the tactics of pursuit, apprehension, post apprehension and interrogation and to then roll up the networks using the information from arrested poachers.”
In the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, for the entire 2014 there was 21 arrests. Under Rory’s guidance they made 21 arrests in half a day. And that is because they’re putting stop groups in the right places at the right time. They work out where the poachers entry and exit the protected area and their movements, especially choke points, and then they set up covert apprehensions. They’re coordinating with tracking teams, observation posts and undercover officers so that every step of the way they can catch them in various positions.
“This kind of anti poaching is not being taught throughout the vast majority of anti poaching operations in Africa,” continues Rory. “There is the assumption that if the boots on the ground isn’t working we should bring in the drones, or some other magic warfare, but there is no silver bullet. Just look at Kruger National Park (KNP), they are failing because they are trying to run it as a military structure.”
In Liwonde, where black rhinos are severely threatened, between February and March Malawi rangers made 33 arrests in two weeks with just 30 men, one old boat captured from poachers, and one and a half vehicles – they only had access to a second vehicle some of the time. Compare that with KNP, with thousands of men, helicopters, drones, vehicle fleets, army and air force support, and there was just 28 rhino poaching arrests in April, and that was a sharp improvement.
I question if that is because South Africa still doesn’t have an effective hot pursuit agreement with Mozambique, and most of the poachers are coming over the border from Mozambique.
“That’s not it,” replies the intense strategist. “Because there is a whole series of steps you can take. You can catch them at point of entry, at market, or exit point – there are many different places you can tackle poaching. But all of that requires intelligence. Shoot on sight is stupid. If we had been shooting on sight during this latest sting operation we would have shot a handful of poachers and that would have been the end of it. Every single poacher is an opportunity for information to get more poachers and work your way up the chain to the ringleaders.”
We go on to discuss the poverty link to the poaching crisis, and how vital it is that governments and NGOs address this problem. Poverty leaves the local villages living near wildlife vulnerable, with the fathers and sons recruited by criminal syndicates to do the dirty work and pay the highest price, often leaving behind widows and orphans.
The very latest figure – 81 arrests in 12 days, is impressive, and must be some kind of record, but I’m quick to point out that the conviction rates of poachers right across Africa is less than 10%. It’s no secret that evidence is often tampered with and mysteriously goes missing once in police custody, so how is Chengeta’s way of teaching rangers to handle evidence any different?
Says Rory, “We teach a complete doctrine, right through to the courts, making sure the dossiers are correctly put together so that the prosecutors have all the information they need. We maximise the ranger’s effectiveness. I’ve been training rangers for the last three years in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Guinea, and as far as I know we’ve never lost evidence. Malawi is in the middle of redoing all its legislation, they know they need to introduce much harsher sentences so that the law actually acts as a deterrent, however in the meantime a committee has been formed made up of judiciary, police, army, parks and wildlife, and intelligence services to make sure they get more convictions. The evidence that is now being handed over to the judiciaries is light years ahead of what it was before. “
Through the Chengeta training, the rangers are taught how to create a dossier with all the evidence and everything is signed off by two police officers, and the rangers get a copy of that. Then it goes straight to the prosecutor and they have to sign for it. Then everyone has a copy, and if something does go astray the organisation that lost the evidence can be charged with deliberately tampering with evidence.
However funds have recently dried up and Rory continues to work pro bona. As soon as more donations come in Chengeta can take on another six protected areas in Malawi, including one Transfrontier Park and a World Heritage Site.
Concludes Rory, “There have been requests from a dozen African countries to conduct the training. Right now our focus is fundraising to provide training to Africa’s least developed countries that need the most help.”
National Geographic story with Chengeta Director Rory Young: Anti poaching – high tech versus boots on the ground.
If you would like to support Chengeta Wildlife please visit their website here.
Each 30 day training session costs approximately US$18,000 which is spent on:
• Rental of vehicles and boats for anti-poaching operations (if needed)
• Fuel for vehicles and boats
• Daily rations for trainers and participants
• Shelter for trainers and participants
• Airfare and transportation for trainers to/from camp location
• Trainer remuneration
• Printed field guides and other education materials
• Training supplies when needed: compasses, water bottles, radios
Malawian ranger Kambanie Masamba and his fellow rangers arrested 81 poachers in just 2 weeks during our last training session. After their phenomenal success he sent the following message.
“You did your part and we did our part, once again thanks!”
Elephants are being slaughtered in unprecedented numbers and if it continues experts predict they will be extinct in the wild within 20 years. They are killed for their ivory tusks. This ivory isn’t used to create anything necessary, it is used to flaunt wealth. Elephants are being slaughtered out of existence so the ignorant rich can say, “Look what I have! See how wealthy I am?”
“The illegal trade threatens to wipe out the natural endowment of affected nations by depriving future generations of their heritage, and of their right to develop those resources in legitimate ways. Ladies and gentlemen, it is wrong that children growing up in countries vulnerable to wildlife crime are losing their birthright in order to fuel the greed of international criminals, and that those children will face greater hardship and insecurity as this crime traps them in poverty.” The Duke of Cambridge’s speech on the illegal wildlife trade at the World Bank, Washington D.C., USA
“Indeed, it suits traffickers that areas rich in natural resources remain under-developed or conflict-ridden, so that they can go on plundering without restriction.”
Wildlife rangers — who tend to be incredibly knowledgeable about their environment and the ways of animals, but less so about infantry tactics — are wading into the bush to confront hardened soldiers.
Rory Young instructs the rangers of Malawi on how to stay safe while apprehending heavily armed poachers.
To Richard Ruggiero, the situation is nothing short of the genocide of an animal that mourns its dead, loves its young and suffers emotionally.”I am convinced many, if not most, know that people are trying to kill every last one of them and that they emotionally suffer because of it, and I can see it in their behavior,” he said. “I am sure that they feel that and that they know it. That people are committing a genocide on them, and most of them even know it’s for their teeth.”
Chengeta Wildlife is a nonprofit run by volunteers. We give free anti-poaching training to rangers all over the African continent. We teach them how to safely apprehend poachers and traffickers of wildlife products. Click on this link if you would like to learn more or donate to our current fundraiser.