Rangers in Isolated Central Africa Uncover Grim Cost of Protecting Wildlife

Sun, 2013-01-06 17:49 by Hans

The Price of Ivory
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN
Published: December 31, 2012

Read the complete article - in The New York Times

ZAKOUMA NATIONAL PARK, Chad — Just before dawn, the rangers were hunched over in prayer, facing east. They pressed their foreheads into the dry earth and softly whispered Koranic verses, their lips barely moving. A cool wind bit at their faces.

All of a sudden, Djimet Seid, the cook, said he heard “one war whoop—or maybe it was a scream.”

And then: “K-k-k-k-k-k-k,” the angry bark of a Kalashnikov assault rifle, opening up on fully automatic.

In an instant, an entire Chadian squad of rangers was cut down with alarming precision by elephant poachers who were skilled at killing more than just animals. Crouching in the bush, the poachers fired from a triangle of different spots, concealed and deadly accurate.

“If you go look at the infantry books, it’s exactly how you do a first light attack, exactly,” said Rian Labuschagne, a former paratrooper and now the manager of Zakouma National Park in southern Chad. “Our guys didn’t have a chance.” …

Read the complete article - in The New York Times