Cam­paign to com­bat poach­ing gets boost

The Herald (South Africa) - - News - Gareth Wil­son wilsong@times­me­dia.co.za

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.”

Pic­ture: FREDLIN ADRI­AAN

SAV­ING RHI­NOS: Scott Wil­liams with the new state-of-the-art Jeep, which will be used to com­bat poach­ing

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