The fourth international Illegal Wildlife Trade conference in London saw the announcement of £900,000 of new funding to develop a British military counter-poaching taskforce…

The announcement builds on the significant success of, and lessons learned from, the UK’s previous work to train rangers in Gabon and Malawi. Operatives will be deployed to train African park rangers in more effective and safer counter-poaching techniques.

The project aims to reduce the number of poaching incidents by catching poachers and bringing them to justice. The UK will work in partnership with targeted countries to provide support for intelligence mapping, interception tracking tactics and operations management.

Training carried out by the British Army in Gabon and Malawi during 2018 has been well received with 84 Ecoguards being trained in Gabon, which will double by the end of the year, and 120 Rangers partnered in Malawi.

Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson said: “The training we already provide has made a significant difference to the protection of some of the planet’s most magnificent wildlife. As the British Army now takes its world-renowned training further across Africa, those responsible for this abhorrent practice should be looking over their shoulders.”

Maj James Cowen, who led the deployment in Malawi, said: “Having seen the beauty of these animals up close, and how at risk their survival is due to poaching, we are more determined than ever to stop these criminals in their tracks.”

Planning is currently ongoing to identify countries and parks across the region with which the British Army will partner and assist over the next year.