As the poaching of elephants and and rhino soars and the poaching war escalates, more highly trained military forces are about to deploy to help fight poaching in Africa. The African Press Organisation distributed a release by the UK Ministry of Defence yesterday, which announced that the latest anti-poaching operations by British Army forces will come from the “Northern Ireland 2 Rifles”. Other specialists, including American military will accompany them on their mission to train rangers and tracking units in Gabon. This is the second time the unit has been sent to Gabon.

US Marines were the first in.

The US Marines sent a first unit of 15 personnel on a similar operation in Chad in 2014. Shortly after the Marines went into Chad, the first contingent of 2 Rifles went into Gabon. Both the Marines and the British Army are not actually shooting and fighting poachers. The Dodo reported in 2014 that the Marines were there to teach parks rangers in Chad “military tactics" At the time James Stenger, the force spokesman mentioned that the Marines would also be used to combat trafficking and assist with “border security”.

The Army was requested by Gabons’ President.

The UK Government Blog reported that the previous deployment last year arose from a “request by the President of Gabon” in an effort to stop the poaching of the severely threatened forest elephants.

The team engaged in military style training with the Gabon rangers, which involved lessons on live firing, intelligence gathering and other “operational experience”. The blog dairy explains that the unit worked with some very skilled Gabonese trackers and with some army personnel who accompany parks ranger on patrols in known poaching areas.

Specialist tracker training

The current team of soldiers to assist in Gabon are expected to carry out much the same mission as the previous one. The Commanding officer of 2 Rifles said in the press release that his soldiers have “trained hard” and are “looking forward” to this experience in Gabon, where they will help with anti-poaching training.

One of the unit’s special members is a highly trained tracker from the "Royal Ghurkha Rifles." His task will be to train about 60 people in advanced tracking techniques.

US team and British army will work together

Organised wildlife crime is rampant in the country and the poachers operate in groups of up to fifty.Ivory poaching is of particular concern and it is vital that the Gabonese are enabled to provide the best protection for their wildlife that they are able to muster. The British Army and American soldiers will work through the British department of Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the government of Gabon to achieve the training objectives. They are expected to be in the rain forests of West Africa for six weeks.