Reviews of: A Field Manual For Anti-Poaching Activities

Answer by Jon Davis:

What Rory Young and Yakov Alekseyev have done with A Field Manual For Anti-Poaching Activities is to create what must be the most all inclusive doctrine for combating the specific problem of international poaching that exists today.

I was shocked at the level of detail in this document and how it addresses so many concerns that apply specifically to the poaching. What I felt reached out to me immediately was that the team correctly identifies that the solution to international poaching won't rely in militarizing the rangers who combat them, but on a holistic approach to combating poaching on all levels, with deterrence as the key. As a veteran of the Iraq war and Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, I see this thinking overused and abused regularly; fund a problem with money and weapons and they will have the power to overcome any obstacle. This is incorrect thinking, often put out by people ill informed of most world problems and relying on mostly legendary accounts of the performance of units such as the Marine Corps and the US Navy SEALs to combat the specific problems these units were designed to overcome. People who don't understand the military don't realize that this approach can not solve all problems, but only those that involve direct confrontation. In the case of poaching, by the time direct confrontation becomes an issue, you've already lost.

What the Field Guide does is lay down an introductory framework for any regional government concerned with the effects of poaching. It addresses all the questions that need to be answered from, "How do we establish contacts with Poaching Networks?" to, "What should our surveillance strategy be?" to, "How do we train our rangers in successfully tracking, stalking and catching poachers in the act?" and dozens more questions that each nation needs to answer for themselves.

I was most impressed by the amount of thought that went into preventative measures as opposed to direct intervention. I thought it was nuanced that a major part of the solution laid in the use of current and former poaching communities to gather information and the structured communication system to channel that information to implementation experts.

The part I enjoyed the most was the analogy that brought the whole thing into perspective. The write up paints a clear image of what modern, even very well funded anti-poaching forces face when dealing with poachers. In the classic story Robin Hood we see a story of poaching funding what might as well be considered terrorist activities. They were heavily outnumbered and outgunned by the King's army, however, the Merrymen were able to routinely evade capture and outwit the Sheriff in his pursuits by utilizing guerrilla style operations that defeated the hardline military approach. When we consider the way that most people solve problems today, be they dealing with insurgency and terrorism to poaching of wild and endangered animals, I very much think the analogy landed. I believe that it makes the case for the development of a complete system to combat poaching rather than just giving untrained and unorganized rangers bigger guns.

What Young and Alekseyev have done is provide a powerful structural aid to those who, as a nation, wish to help solve the problems of the illegal harvesting of wildlife, but as yet, lack the doctrine with which to do it. I believe this is a strong step in the right direction to take the desire to stop poaching to an implementable strategy to do so.

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Reviews of: A Field Manual For Anti-Poaching Activities

Answer by Logan Forbes:

Written by Rory Young and Yakov Alexseyev, two men wholly qualified to present and teach the skills contained in this field manual. 

Rory, with a lifetime of living and breathing the African bush as well as more than 25 years experience as a professional tracker and guide and Yakov brings his expertise as a retired member of the US Air Force Office of Special Investigations. 

The book’s Preface sets forth the definition of poaching and the far-reaching consequences in statements that are in equal parts sobering and direct: 

“Our own existence clings to the fragile towers made up of the myriad of different life forms with which we share the planet… By destroying individual species, or changing the numbers of a species, we change their impact on their ecosystems and we will eventually cause the towers to crumble and topple, bringing others down in the process…For anyone to believe that humans can exist without healthy natural areas is stupid beyond belief.”
Each chapter is laid out in intricate detail that, I daresay, rivals any law enforcement textbook.  The chapter on tracking (complete with diagrams) is a fascinating and utterly engrossing read.  The instruction covers much more than simply determining shoe size and gender and even the lay person will be newly awakened to what they could glean from their natural surroundings.  For professionals in the field, it provides a detailed analysis of how to interpret the smallest detail and incorporate it into an overall strategy.

There’s comprehensive information on mapping out a conservation area complete with instructions on how and when to use graphics effectively, what information is vital and how to convert it all into a resource that will guide the anti-poaching team. 
The finer points of apprehension and questioning are delved into in intricate detail, including such familiar techniques as “good cop/bad cop” and a host of lesser known, equally effective, interrogation strategies.

Amidst the abundance of technical information and law enforcement techniques, a somewhat unexpected facet of the doctrine is the humanity with which Rory and Yakov advocate in the treatment of suspects upon apprehension.  Poaching is a supremely complex issue and the manual details the less publicized toll it takes on the human component.

 The technicalities of anti-poaching are enveloped inside proactive and reactive strategies and the authors demonstrate a clear understanding of the need to encompass all variables that make up this devastating epidemic.
This field manual provides precisely what it purports to — a comprehensive, direct and simple approach to put an end to rampant poaching once and for all and ultimately lead the world toward a better path.

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Reviews of: A Field Manual For Anti-Poaching Activities

Answer by Diane Meriwether:

"…collect a leaf broken off by the quarry and compare it to a freshly picked one.  Each time another leaf of the same type is found as spoor it is compared with those previously picked and a freshly picked one. Very quickly it becomes apparent whether the gap is being closed or not." 

It's this level of practical specificity that makes this manual both an interesting read and a much needed guide in the struggle to preserve our natural resources.

Using Robin Hood as a teaching story on how not to proceed, the manual instructs us to remember that whoever loses the people loses the struggle.  Sadly, arrogance and racism have a long tail.

"Investigators must also know they carry the reputation of their agency even into the first meeting with a community leader, so they can often start at a disadvantage through no fault of their own."

Without dwelling on the past, and ever practical, the manual lays out the rules of honorable engagement – be humble, be human, be truthful, be patient, be discrete.

Much of the manual is police procedural – how to tag and control evidence, how to conduct an interview, how to read a crime scene – familiar material for those of us who have ever caught up on a Netfilxed season of CSI until you realize that the crime scene is a group of elephants poisoned at the waterhole or mother rhino with her calf bereft by her side.  

Another portion describes exactly how to read and follow a trail left by poachers in the Central African terrain. Rory and Yakov tell us that a woman poacher will urinate between her tracks, while a man's stream will fall ahead of where his feet are pointing. Perhaps your picture of poachers will shift at that point and you will wonder, as I did, what she looks like, this woman who kills these magnificent beasts.

The manual asks us to notice whether impala have slept on the poacher's tracks or the poachers have walked across the impala's bed, to visualize a spider taking about an hour to recreate their torn web, to squat down and dip your finger in the poacher's blood – pink and frothy if they have been gored in the lung, watery and foul from a wound to the gut.  Notice, the manual says, listen, remember, observe.

I will never practice what this manual teaches.  I will never check for scuff marks in the African dust or rehearse breaching the door of a warehouse filled with tusks but that does not mean the guide is useless to me. 8000 miles away I see an image of a mutilated young elephant and I find it hard to even look. This manual invites me to imagine how much more painful the scene must be when one has trained to observe the natural world so closely that you knows the animal's mother by name. I invite you to read and, then, to act: Chengeta Wildlife – We train wildlife protection teams. –

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Could legalizing the sale of rhino horns actually save the two African Rhino species?

Answer by Rory Young:

I take a teaspoon of crocodile oil every morning.

Why? It might be good for my health.

Is it scientifically proven to be good for my health? No, not specifically, except perhaps for the fact that it is high in vitamin E.

So why do I take it and what has it got to do with the question?

Well, the reason I take it is because an eighty three year old man I know takes it and swears by it. He trains hard in the gym every evening, he has a thirty-something year old girlfriend, he walks with a ramrod-straight back and his mind is as sharp as a razor. Furthermore this is after having lived a hard life as a game-ranger and catching and breeding crocodiles. He never gets sick. Ever.

I am not harming myself by taking it and I am not harming the crocodile population by taking it. In fact I am assisting the maintenance of the population. How? Well,this brings me to what this has to do with rhino horn.

Nile crocodile numbers had been reduced to critically low numbers. They were facing extinction.

Instead of just trying to protect the last crocodiles, a controversial decision was made in the 1960s to allow them to be farmed.
The system worked by collecting the eggs and incubating them. At two years of age the crocodiles reach their optimum food conversion level and are slaughtered, except for a percentage that are released into the wild.

The result of this system has been the dramatic recovery of the wild crocodile population and the maintaining of a "stock" captive population that can be used to boost numbers in the wild.

A similar argument has been used for zoos. That is that they serve as a reserve of species for later reintroduction into the wild. The problem however is that zoos don't make much money.

Now, let's get down to the question of "farming" rhinos.

Under the laws of many African countries a wild animal on your land belongs to you. The government can declare the species "specially protected"or what used to be known as "Royal Game". This means that it may not be killed. It does still however still belong to the property owner.

In the case farmed wild animals, depending on the country, ownership can be registered.

The argument for the farming is that the animal should still not be allowed to be killed but that it should be legal for rhino owners to "harvest" the horns and sell them.

The biggest supporter and proponent of this scheme is a man called John Hume who owns over 500 rhinos.

John Hume

A rhino horn takes three years to regrow after being cut. At least three kilograms of rhino horn can be expected every three years. The current prices in Asia is more than US$100'000 per kg. That means John Hume can potentially earn at least $50 million per year by harvesting and selling rhino horns.

Of course this doesn't take into account that prices would be depressed if large amounts of legal rhino horn hit the market but it also doesn't take into account the continued growth of the average Asian's disposable income. Most importantly whatever the potential earnings they would be dramatically more than what he earns right now which is zero.

White Rhinos on a Private game farm.

The argument then is that if game ranchers were allowed to harvest and sell the horns they would breed and protect the populations on private land. I believe this is quite correct. Poachers can certainly be controlled on private land with the right funding, especially if they are kept in small fenced areas.

Keeping them in small, well-protected and fenced locations  effectively means they are no longer wild. That has been a common comment by reporters visiting John Hume's rhino population, that they are almost like cows, being fed and unconcerned by the presence of humans.

We can conclude two facts from this. These rhinos are not wild and yes this would allow the non-wild and semi-wild numbers to increase dramatically thus preserving a "stock" of rhinos for re-introduction into the parks and other wild areas at a later date.

What about the wild rhinos then? What effect would the sale of legally harvested horn have on the wild rhino population?

The opponents of this plan say that it will increase demand and allow horn from poached rhinos to be sold openly in Asia and increase demand and therefore increase poaching in the Parks.

What these people don't seem to understand however is that the demand already so massively outstrips the even illegal supply that there is absolutely no way of reducing demand via supply restriction of poached rhino horn.This is simply because the rhinos are being poached so fast that they will be extinct before any small impact on demand can be made.

Furthermore, analysis of poaching levels over the last thirty years has shown increased levels of poaching each time stockpiles of ivory were burnt and legal trade restricted. We cannot control the demand. We can however ensure that revenues are channeled into encouraging population growth and fighting poaching.

Rhino horn is used in various Asian traditional medicines.

I take croc oil because it is legally available and might be good for me. However, others have a blind faith in its healing properties and will take it whether legal or not and will pay whatever they must for perceived health benefits. The same applies to rhino horn.

The speed at which the wild rhinos are being butchered means that dramatic anti-poaching measures have to be taken regardless of whether legal trade in harvested horns is permitted. However, because of the lack of success in reducing rhino poaching to date this cannot be relied on. We have reached the point of drastic measures being needed to reverse the declining numbers. We have now reached the stage where we need to prioritize saving the different rhino species from extinction.

In conclusion, it is my belief that in the case of the rhino the only way to now save the species is for South Africa, which has the vast majority of rhinos left, to allow private game farmers to harvest and sell the horns for profit. I am not in agreement however with allowing the hunting of rhinos.

I have opposed legalizing the sale of rhino horn till now but have no more faith in African governments tackling the poachers properly nor in the international community properly tackling the trafficking of poached rhino horn, or any other endangered species product for that matter.

At the same time, rhinos in protected areas such as National Parks should have their horns injected with the recently developed products that render them useless for Asian medicine.

Injecting Rhinos' horns with non-lethal chemicals on the Sabi-Sabi reserve in South Africa.

Most importantly the poaching war needs to be taken seriously by African government and the trafficking of the horn taken seriously by the international community. It is because the governments are not doing anything to stop the decline in the Parks that we need to look to boosting numbers through legalizing sales in the private areas.

The time has come to be coldly pragmatic about saving these species.

There is a desperate war being fought to save these and many other African species. If you would like to help then please see below:

The animals and the natural habitat pictured above are under extreme threat. The Black Rhino is racing towards extinction. If you would like to help then please see below:

Please visit this blog Quorans For A Cause where amazing people are doing what they can to support the rangers!

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What is poaching and what can be done about it?

Answer by Rory Young:

Here are some excerpts from our new book "A Field Manual for Anti-Poaching Activities" that deal with these questions.


Definition of poaching
Poaching is the illegal removal of natural resources.
That may sound quite simple.  However, it can be a very complex issue.  Poaching is undertaken by a variety of different people for a variety of reasons, and must be understood within a cultural context.  Poaching can include the illegal removal from an ecosystem of; wild animals, wood, minerals, sand, water, plants – in fact the removal of any element of the natural ecosystem in contravention of local laws.
Fighting poaching is not just a process of arresting poachers; it must be combined with a broad effort to motivate people towards a more positive relationship with the natural environment, for the benefit of both human and ecosystem health.  This is underpinned by educating the human communities that produce the poachers, as well as the communities that consume the goods illegally obtained by poachers, as to the damage they cause to the local and global environment.
With the above in mind we should first endeavour to understand why natural resources extraction is and should be allowed or disallowed by the law of the state, or by any individual or organization that has authority over natural resources.

Environmental Reasons for Protecting Ecosystems
Natural ecosystems form the basis for all life on earth.  The species that live in, and rely on, those ecosystems create a complex web of interactions meaning that each species is reliant on many others for their survival.  Our own existence clings to the fragile towers made up of the myriad of different life forms with which we share the planet and the ecosystem services that functioning ecosystems provide.  By destroying individual species, or changing the numbers of a species, we change their impact on their ecosystems and we will eventually cause the towers to crumble and topple, bringing others down in the process.  As we are intertwined with these ecosystems we will in the process destroy ourselves.  For anyone to believe that humans can exist without healthy natural areas is stupid beyond belief.
We must protect the biodiversity and health of our natural environment for our own well-being.  That said we cannot expect man to return all areas to nature, but we can and must ensure that what natural treasures still exist are protected and maintained in a healthy state.  This is why governments and other organizations create protected areas; they are intended to ensure the survival of important ecosystems and their components for perpetuity.
Removing any component of these natural areas, most especially keystone species, will have a devastating and often unpredictable domino effect that will degrade both these areas themselves and contribute to further change of our human environments.
Change to the human environment inevitably leads to disease, hunger, poverty, and war.  A good example of this is desertification in North Africa; the southerly extension of the Sahara and other North African dry areas, which has caused deadly stresses to the peoples inhabiting the boundaries of these places.  In order to survive, pastoral peoples have been forced to relocate south to areas inhabited by other ethnic groups, thus putting strain on local resources and inter-ethnic relations with the result being hunger, poverty and warfare.

Economic Reasons for Protecting Wildlife
It is a mistake to argue that the continued existence of natural ecosystems should be dependent on their ability to generate income for the states and communities where they are found.  We need them whether they generate money for us or not; for carbon sequestration, water purification, waste disposal, nutrient cycling and genetic resources, amongst other ecosystem services on which we rely.  However, there are significant economic benefits to doing so.
Well-managed wildlife areas generate income and jobs for the state, private enterprise, and for local communities through both consumptive and non-consumptive use.  
In the case of consumptive use, this is only beneficial if it does not compromise the overall objective of protecting biodiversity, the health of the ecosystem as a whole, or that of individual species.  There are many cases today of over-exploited areas where utilization has been allowed to degrade ecosystems and reduce wild fauna and flora populations below optimal levels.  Very often this is blamed on poachers.  Although the balance may have been tipped by poaching, the truth is that in many cases the poaching should have been controlled and the utilization levels reduced until such time as it becomes viable to resume.  Legalized over-utilization is unethical, self-destructive and defeats the objective of sustainable economic and ecological benefit.  Many community wildlife areas enduring economic difficulty are tempted to over-sell an area so as to generate income. This short-sightedness is a clear case of ‘killing the goose that lays the golden egg’.

Altruistic Reasons for Protecting Wildlife
Quite simply, we should protect it because it is beautiful, it is fascinating, it is our heritage, it provides us with enjoyment, spiritual fulfilment, or any other reason that compels us. 
Very often any of these sentiments can be found enshrined in law.  Although this may not be a strong reason to deter poachers from poaching, it canbe a sentiment from which funds for anti-poaching and voluntary assistance can be generated.  It often can and does not only lead to the protection of wild areas and ecosystems but also ensures that they are cared for and managed.


The Objective of Anti-Poaching
The objective of anti-poaching should always be first and foremost the prevention of poaching.  Prevention is achieved in the following ways; through education, through dealing with socio-economic factors that encourage poaching, by stopping people from actually poaching and lastly, through deterrence.  Education and deterrence both come before apprehension or interdiction or the actual protection of wildlife on the ground, although these last elements may be part of the reason for deterrence.  Actual arrest operations are less likely to be necessary if a combination of powerful deterrent, awareness and education exists.
This manual primarily deals with stopping poaching on the ground and deterring poaching.  However, the necessity of education and awareness as well as other factors are always intertwined with these objectives.  For example a crucial part of operations, pro-active investigation, is dependent on good relations with the community, which in turn is usually a result of educating the community about the benefits and importance of protecting wildlife and wild areas, and by raising levels of awareness within those communities of poaching problems being experienced.  This education and raising of awareness leads to the cooperation that allows for good pro-active investigation whereby even unpaid informants provide information on poaching-related activity.

A Complex Crime Requiring Intelligent Solutions
Poaching is not a new phenomenon.  Laws prohibiting the removal of natural resources or the hunting of particular species have existed for centuries.
A classic tale of poaching is the story of Robin Hood.  Although a hero, he and his merry men were, despite being merry and giving to the poor, poachers.  We can learn lessons for anti-poaching from these tales even today.
In his efforts to beat Robin, the Sherriff of Nottingham makes many crucial errors, which are still often made today; he allowed the perception of Robin as being a part and parcel of the community in opposition to the authority to become established. The Sheriff therefore not only had to struggle with Robin, he also had to struggle against the whole community.  Robin’s greatest asset was neither his ability with a bow, nor his band of merry men.  It wasn’t even his ability to hide in and survive off the Sherwood Forest.  No, his greatest asset was the support of the people.  Today it is equally important that the poachers are seen as the threat and the authorities as the representatives of and partners of the community, instead of the other way around.
Robin Hood and his team were more skilled in the Forest and constantly outwitted the Sherriff’s men.  Today we see untrained and poorly-equipped scouts being sent out to tackle well-armed, well-equipped, and very experienced poaching teams.  Sending an untrained man after such groups is both irresponsible and a waste of time, resources and even human lives.
The fact that the Sheriff of Nottingham failed to apprehend and then ensure that Robin was indeed punished means there was a failure not only to stop Robin’s poaching, but also a failure of deterrence.  In order for a deterrent to truly work, people need to see that there is a high risk of being apprehended, and then, if apprehended, that there is a strong likelihood of being prosecuted and punished.  The punishment itself needs to be such that it will deter a person from committing a crime.  In the case of medieval England the punishment of death for killing the King’s deer was, of course, a severe punishment.  However, a punishment itself, no matter how severe, is unlikely to deter if the perpetrator is both unlikely to be apprehended and unlikely to be successfully prosecuted.  In spite of the harsh penalty, the sheriff was unable to catch Robin.  A stiff penalty can only be a deterrent if the perpetrator is likely to be caught and prosecuted for his crime. 
Most importantly of all, if the Sherriff was to stand any chance of beating Robin he would have needed a clear, comprehensive, pragmatic, and objective doctrine for combating the overall problem of poaching.  Instead, the story tells us that it became a personal vendetta based on greed, with the evil Sheriff representing the authorities and the good Robin representing the poor.  Robin won at every turn.  In terms of pro-active investigation the Sheriff had no clue about Robin’s movements, weaknesses, enemies, or habits.  When a crime was committed it was on Robin’s terms and in Robin’s favoured environment.  He was not pressured into doing his thing on prepared ground.  In the pursuit, Robin had all the advantages; the Sheriff and his men did not have the skills to follow him. However, just as is often the case today, the Sheriff’s men were better equipped, armed and outnumbered Robin and his men. This is the classic mistake made over and over again; it does not matter how many heavily armed and well-equipped men with battle skills are sent in, if they can’t find the poachers it is just a waste of time, effort and money.

A Comprehensive Doctrine
Poaching is a complex crime, requiring organization and multiple participants.  This complexity is poaching’s greatest weakness; to effectively counteract poaching this weakness must be exploited. 
Let us look at the different parts and aspects of a typical professional and established cross-border ivory poaching operation:
First of all there is the money; someone funds the operation.  Money is needed for food, transport, wages for porters, ammunition, look-outs, bribes for officials, weapons and equipment such as communications devices, clothing, containers, axes, knives and more.
Secondly there are the weapons.  These are commonly of two types; for hunting and for defence.  The hunting weapon is often a legally purchased, heavy calibre sporting rifle illegally supplied (sometimes rented) to the poaching team by a licensed owner.  The defensive weapons are often illegally held assault rifles or other military weapons kept hidden by others when not in use, usually in remote locations.
Thirdly, there is the ammunition.  While ammunition for the hunting weapon can often be legally purchased, ammunition for an AK-47 can be much more problematic for the poacher.  This cannot easily be purchased legally and therefore is often purchased from people holding old caches left over from wars, from cross-border smugglers, or from unscrupulous military personnel.
Next, there is the food and equipment.  This needs to be purchased, stored, packed and transported.  By its very nature it makes the group or an individual stand out and is therefore a risk as it will often give away the poaching teams’ intentions.  Any risk to the poacher is an opportunity for the anti-poaching unit.
Transport usually entails hiring a vehicle to get to the drop-off point or to cross major rivers.  The owners of the transport have to be paid and of course paid well to keep their mouths shut.
The team itself will be composed of: ‘the hunter’ who will do the actual killing, the defenders who will fight off any rangers or other threats, and porters to carry food, water and the ivory.
Already it is possible to see how many people are involved and we have only looked at the actual poaching expedition and not at the smuggling, manufacturing and other parts of the process, all of which mean more people ‘in’ on the crime. 
To successfully suppress serious poaching in an area it needs to be tackled at as many stages of the process as possible. 
The Adoption and Use of New Technology
The current development of drones and other technology is moving at an exponential rate.  The question is for what task is a particular technology going to be more effective and how cost-effective will it be?  It should of course be used if it will allow the anti-poaching process to be more successful than using less modern methods, and as long as resources allow for the improvement.  Most importantly, it has to be legal.  Many countries have yet to legalize the use of drones and some have actually already disallowed them.
It is important to understand that the process itself does not change, and that any technology is still used for specific purpose within the same processes.  Therefore the first question to be asked is what role will it play and what specific tasks will it be required to fulfil? 
How does it compare with existing technology?  For example, would a drone be more effective at silently observing and following a poacher in a rainforest than a local tracker armed with a radio?  Perhaps not, but it may be very effective at following a column of poachers moving by vehicle at high speed through an arid area.
There are no “wonder weapons” that will themselves put an end to poaching.  The doctrine doesn’t change, just the tools, and the tools need to be both useful and put to best use.
Whilst this field manual deals with the resources most commonly available to rangers, it does not preclude the adoption and adaptation of new technologies to its doctrine.  It is crucial in the face of the growing problem that wildlife protection strategy and tactics, the tools and skills employed and any technologies that prove useful and effective be used to lessen the risk to personnel, control cost and, of course, enhance the effectiveness of anti-poaching activities.
Thorough Understanding of the Problem and Knowledge of the Perpetrators
Good solutions may only be found if there is thorough and clear knowledge of all aspects of the poaching in an area, with a comprehensive understanding of all the resources available to the anti-poaching effort.  The very first and most crucial part of the anti-poaching effort is the pro-active investigation and the subsequent Information Preparation of the Conservation Area (IPCA). ‘Know thine enemy!’ Picture two scenarios:
In the first a highly motivated investigations team builds a detailed knowledge and understanding of all the poaching in an area, including who is doing the poaching, when and how they are doing it, where they enter and exit the area, where they are from and who they are.  This information is then used by a mediocre leader to create a plan for mediocre tracking / pursuit and apprehension teams to attempt to locate and apprehend the poachers.
In the second scenario a mediocre investigative team puts together an incomplete picture of the poaching in an area with vague and incorrect information.  A competent leader then puts together the best plan he can for competent tracking / pursuit and apprehension teams to attempt to locate and apprehend.
So who would be most likely to achieve success?  Assuming these are small units operating in a very large area, then the best chance lies with the first scenario.  The reason for this is that no matter how good he is, if the leader has no knowledge and understanding of the poachers then he is dependent on good luck to find them; and finding them is the key!  It doesn’t matter how good the teams are out there if they have no idea where to look for the poachers!  If a team is in an area of high activity at a point where poacher movements bottle-neck, and at the right time, then it is more likely to succeed than if it is randomly deployed or according to some unintelligent grid plan.
Well Developed Relevant Competencies
The more capable the people are in all aspects of the effort, the more likely they will be to succeed.  Expecting people without the necessary skills and training to succeed is, once again, hoping that good luck will prevail.  For example, in recent years it has become popular amongst governments to deploy soldiers to patrol areas for poachers.  Unless these soldiers have been specifically trained to track as a team then it will again come down to luck.  A highly skilled, well-trained tracking team on the other hand will have a greater chance of locating and following a poaching group, thus allowing its movements to be assessed and an apprehension plan developed and implemented.
The Full Process
The anti-poaching effort is broken down very simply into:

  1. Proactive information gathering to      understand the nature of the poaching threat;

  1. Reactive information gathering on      specific poaching activities;

  1. Deployments – these are putting      the right teams of competent people into the field based on application of      information gathering and understanding;

  1. Tracking – the use of      ‘bush-craft’ to locate and track poachers from the smallest sign of their      presence;

  1. Pursuit & Apprehension – the      skills of tracking and apprehension teams combine to pursue and capture      poachers;

  1. Reactive information gathering      following apprehension;

  1. Prosecution – we can catch all      the poachers in the world, but if we cannot successfully prosecute them      then we are but an irritant to their business;

  1. Preventing and deterring      poaching in the first place.

We are giving the book away free to anti-poaching units and 50% of sales to the public goes to anti-poaching training and operations. If you would like to support our work please visit Quorans For A Cause.

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I have very exciting news!

Firstly, the manual is out.

Secondly, I will, through ALERT and funded by Chengeta, be training the Malawi National Parks and Wildlife Department Anti Poaching Units.

Thirdly, through ALERT and funded by Chengeta, under UN OPS, be training the Guinea Parks Ranger Officers in Anti Poaching.

More to come soon too! In the meantime I hope you enjoy the full stories below..

Best wishes and thank you for all your support. We are doing great things together!


July 20 2014

Africa’s wildlife is under attack from poachers, and many species face imminent extinction if the killing continues at current rates.
The campaign group Save the Elephants estimates that between 2010 and 2012, 33,000 elephants were slaughtered for their ivory each year. Last year, 1,004 rhino were killed in South Africa alone. In the Central African region the illegal bush-meat trade totals up to 3.4 million tonnes per year, with poachers targeting primates, antelope, carnivores, rodents and fish.
Wildlife loss however is dwarfed by the illegal trade in flora. Currently, up to 90% of wood and wild plant products are believed to come from illegal sources.
With a projected human population increase in Africa of another 1.1 billion people by 2050, and increasing global demand for Africa’s wildlife products, continued poaching will lead to widespread extinction and large-scale deforestation, with impacts felt globally.
To address this complex issue, the African Lion & Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) and Chengeta Wildlife have published “A Field Manual for Anti-Poaching Activities”. The first publication of its kind, the manual presents the most comprehensive and pragmatic doctrine ever devised to bring the practice of poaching under control. Further, this doctrine utilises existing local resources and personnel with objective and low-cost solutions.
The doctrine has been developed by Rory Young of Bannon-Tighe Global Assessment Group –himself a professional tracker with 25 years’ experience, alongside a number of security professionals with experience in investigations, special operations, law enforcement, and S.W.A.T. training doctrines. The combined experience of these contributors has created a doctrine capable of tackling poaching from every angle and at every step of the process.
David Youldon, Chief Operating Officer for the Zambian based ALERT says, “Right now, organizations often end up latching onto some expensive technology or super-warrior as the magic formula to tackling the issues of wildlife protection. Generally, the feeling is that soldiers are the people for the job, and the troops are being sent in more and more. There are also many programs where serving and former foreign military men train scouts according to established military doctrine. This is just not the answer. Most of these troops are sent out and cannot find the “enemy”. They patrol around and around without ever even seeing a poacher. This is because poachers, although often skilled fighters, are not conducting a military campaign – and they are past masters at not being found. Conventional military practices do not apply. What is needed in this struggle is a comprehensive doctrine, developed specifically for the complex and organized crime that poaching is, and that addresses all the problems with objective and inexpensive solutions.”
Co-author Rory Young explained that through ALERT he intends to provide training free of charge to Africa’s anti-poaching units to increase their effectiveness. The doctrine and training includes: pro-active and reactive investigation techniques to understand the movements, areas of operation and modus operandi of poachers; surveillance and tracking skills to locate the poachers – developed with many years’ experience and incorporating aspects of anthropology, podiatry and forensic science; apprehension techniques to ensure a safe and effective method to capture poachers; and most importantly, how to prevent poaching in the first place. He says, “Training is conducted within local and international laws and adapted to local conditions and sensitivities. Wherever possible local trainers are to be used, and, the training of local individuals able to provide future training, is always the primary goal. What we need is for these improved techniques to spread like wild-fire.”
Lisa Groeneweg of Chengeta Wildlife, who is overseeing fundraising to implement the training programmes, explains, “At the moment we have sufficient funding to continue offering training courses for the next few months, but we urgently need more donations to meet the huge demand from African governments and anti-poaching units for training, as well as sponsors of the manual so that we can provide all rangers and scouts working in anti-poaching in Africa with a copy”.
To read a sample of the manual click here.
To purchase an electronic copy of the manual, and help fund the training of APUs in Africa visit
If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of the manual so that free copies can be provided to APUs in Africa, contact
If you would like to make a donation to support this cause you can do so here.

The Southern African nation of Malawi has not escaped the scourge of poaching that is decimating wildlife populations across the continent. In many of the nation’s protected areas some species have already gone extinct, with many more in peril. The most recent estimates suggest that only around 30 lions remain in the country.
ALERT has offered assistance in the form of anti-poaching training to enhance the effectiveness of existing operations. Agreement has been reached with the Department of National Parks & Wildlife to bring the heads of anti-poaching for all of Malawi’s national parks together to undertake an intensive training course starting this August that will include training in how to pass on their knowledge to their anti-poaching teams when they return to their own parks. Training will be funded by Chengeta Wildlife.
ALERT is extremely proud to work with the Malawi Department for National Parks & Wildlife to support wildlife protection in the country.

There has been no formalised body of national park rangers in Guinea since 1966, a country that holds one of the last remaining lion populations in West Africa. Scientists believe that only 250 adult lions remain in the whole of West Africa, with Guinea forming part of the Niokolo-Guinea lion area that includes parts of neighbouring Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Senegal. A small sub population of perhaps only 5 – 8 individuals also survives in Guinea’s Upper Niger National Park.
A 2-year pilot initiative to implement a wildlife protection program in the country has begun – funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in partnership with the Republic of Guinea’s Ministry of the Environment, Water and Forests. The aim is to support the Ministry in the creation and application of a new corps of rangers in three of Guinea’s protected areas: Upper Niger National Park, Ziama Massif Biosphere Reserve and Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve. The project was also conceived with the aim of reintegrating ex-combatants, and in providing support to the regular army in the context of regional insecurity. UNOPS are currently in the process of rehabilitating the operational bases of these three sites, and selecting and equipping 38 officers and 290 rangers. If successful, activities may be extended to a total of 4000 rangers across the Guinea’s protected area network.
Basic training of the officers and rangers will commence in August. One major training area needed for the project’s success is training in anti-poaching techniques. To that end UNOPS have reached agreement with ALERT to provide training throughout October and November 2014. Training will be funded by Chengeta Wildlife.
ALERT looks forward to working with the Republic of Guinea and UNOPS in supporting wildlife protection in this region.

It’s time to stop the killing