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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