Bloody battle to save endangered species
The battle to save some of the world’s most endangered species is turning bloody, with wildlife charities deploying guns and military vehicles to protect elephants, rhinos and tigers from a surge in poaching. At least one organisation, Care for the Wild International, is buying military-style field equipment and supporting the deployment of armed guards, while the US-based International Fund for Animal Welfare has bought ammunition, night-vision supplies and light aircraft. WWF, formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund, has hired former SAS soldiers to train African wildlife wardens, and the Zoological Society of London is funding elephant-mounted armed patrols to protect rhinos in Nepal. The trend towards militarisation follows an estimated 150 deaths among game wardens in Africa in gunfights with poachers. The disclosures coincide with a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Qatar, which has angered activists by dismissing proposals to protect bluefin tuna. This week, their fury could increase with the likely approval of plans to restart sales of ivory.