Campaign to combat poaching gets boost
A STATE-OF-THE-ART military tactical Jeep worth more than R1-million has been imported to assist with antipoaching operations in the Eastern Cape and around South Africa.
The US military spec vehicle, used in war zones for reconnaissance and border patrol operations, comes standard with machine gun mounts which will now be replaced with drone mounts.
The vehicle arrived in South Africa last year and was cleared by customs last week. It is now being housed and prepped at Maritime Motors on the William Moffett Expressway. It will be out patrolling by the end of the week.
This particular Jeep J8 Border Patrol Vehicle, commonly known as the Tactical Conservation Patrol Jeep, is the latest addition to the Reserve Protection Agency (RPA) fleet.
Four other Jeeps have been donated by United Kingdom-based company Jankel, a global industry leader in protection and armoured vehicles.
RPA director Scott Williams, 37, whose head office is based at Kariega Game Reserve near Kenton-on-Sea, said the aim of the vehicle was to boost technology research for antipoaching efforts across the country. RPA is a non-profit organisation. “The vehicles are used by our team to test their durability and define the best application, as well as to make recommendations about what can be tweaked on the vehicle. This tactical vehicle will be used around the Eastern Cape as well as in the Kruger National Park to assist with antipoaching operations and test our state-of- the-art technology,” he said.
Williams said their core focus was to ensure specialised units used the proper technology and applications to maximise counter-poaching efforts.
“The RPA is doing field testing in the Eastern Cape while developing more technology applications for conservation and anti-poaching. We also assist any game farms with anti-poaching efforts when they request help.”
Already, seven rhinos have been killed in the Eastern Cape this year.
Williams, a former US military pilot, arrived in South Africa in 2010 as part of the US delegation for security involved with the Fifa World Cup.
He said he left the military in 2012 after visiting the Eastern Cape.
“Part of my duties was visiting all the stadiums and doing security assessments for the military. When I came to Port Elizabeth and the Eastern Cape I knew this is where I wanted to live,” he said.
“I formed the non-profit [organisation] as part of my campaign to assist conservation efforts. This country is truly the hidden gem of the world.”
Jankel commercial director Daniel Crosby said: “Defence technologies are often ahead of the curve and can make a huge difference for those working tirelessly on conservation.”
SAVING RHINOS: Scott Williams with the new state-of-the-art Jeep, which will be used to combat poaching