A small team of Northern Ireland based troops are on their way after a request from Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba.
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Major Mark Shercliff said:

“It’s a challenging environment for the park agencies in Gabon and for ourselves as soldiers. With a range of forestation across a hilly environment it is not a straightforward task.

We have junior soldiers with a range of tactical experience, we have strong and experienced instructors who work with troops deploying all over the globe. This allows us to focus on low level skills as well as building the teams that will be needed within the park agencies.”

A team of 12 drawn from the Royal Scots Borderers, the Rifles and other specialist units, will work with rangers at a military training centre at Mokekou.

Major Shercliff said it would take a huge international and political effort to end poaching and prevent extinction.

He added:

“Military input cannot solve this alone, but it can help at the tactical level. There is a lot of work to be done above us all in the political sphere by getting countries around the world to combat poaching in a way that is joined up – this is not a phenomenon that belongs to the single country or single continent.”

The World Wildlife Fund regional director Pauwel De Wachter has declared it a major crisis and the Gabonese President has pledged war on poachers.

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