[VIDEO] Kinessa Johnson Part of Team Heading to Africa to Combat Illegal Rhino Poachers

[VIDEO] Kinessa Johnson Part of Team Heading to Africa to Combat Illegal Rhino Poachers
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TJ was able to meet with the AWESOME Kinessa Johnson at SHOT Show 2015 and she was able to discuss with us her upcoming plans with Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife (VETPAW). We have embedded this encounter below.

Detailed below is the program backed by The Discovery Channel where a team of US Vets including Kinessa Johnson will be deploying to Africa to train and patrol with park rangers to stop illegal poaching of Rhinos.

(VetPaw.org)

Pilot Trip to Tanzania

In August, the VETPAW team headed to Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area, at the invitation of its Chief Conservator. Our objective was to collaborate with the NCA leadership to identify the challenges their anti-poaching rangers and communities face in the battle to save their wildlife, and how VETPAW’s mission could support them.

The exploratory trip was at once sobering and inspiring.

We found the rangers working on the ground in the Ngorongoro to be committed and motivated, and, like the senior staff guiding them, these men and women are doing the best that they possibly can.

The VETPAW team, led by Ryan Tate, had the privilege of patrolling with the rangers, and we got a real-time sense of what they do and the types of situations they face, both in their day-to-day activities and in a broader anti-poaching context.

We were also able to tour each of the ranger posts across eight distinct zones. We visited their training grounds, medical facilities, and equipment.

At the conclusion of our exploratory trip, Ryan made a presentation to the senior staff. In it, he provided them with our findings, including:

  • An overview of the equipment, personnel, and training deficiencies, and areas for improvement;
  • Assessment of capabilities, opportunities to enhance their programs and/or add new elements to improve their functionality and success rate;
  • Opportunities to coordinate with reserve officials and local community leaders to establish collaborative relationships.

The proposed training & support curriculum includes:

  • Area of Operation (AO) management
  • Patrolling Strategies and Movements
  • Reconnaissance
  • Marksmanship
  • Cover and Concealment
  • Counter intelligence Analysis/Ground Surveillance
  • Field Medical Operations
  • Communications
  • Vehicle tactics

This will allow rangers to cover vast areas more efficiently and effectively, and increases the number of poachers deterred or detained.

Another positive result of the program is the bolstering of pride and optimism anti-poaching rangers acquire along with new skills and capabilities.

Throughout our journey, we were aware and respectful of our cultural differences and we see these distinctions as an opportunity to incorporate the best of both into an effective, united effort to address the poaching crisis.

Once established, the VETPAW model and program will be easily replicated and adaptable to the primary locations most in need of the skill, experience, and dedication of our U.S.

Ranger Training & Support
VETPAW will empower African park rangers by training and implementing the skills that are vital to the success of anti-poaching efforts. Rangers will be able to cover vast areas more efficiently and effectively, with the goal of increasing the number of poachers deterred or detained. We will also support the adjoining communities by providing conservation education, poacher rehabilitation, and alternative employment opportunities tied to the ranger programs and agricultural initiatives.

VETPAW will establish a training curriculum for the park rangers to include the following areas of instruction:

  • Area of Operation (AO) management
  • Patrolling Strategies and Movements
  • Marksmanship
  • Cover and Concealment
  • Counter intelligence Analysis/Ground Surveillance
  • Field Medical Operations
  • Communications
  • Vehicle tactics

Training teams will follow the general model below:

  • Trainer Teams consisting of 11 people will operate in six-month intervals, with one month of overlap for continuity of training.
  • Teams will coordinate and patrol with the existing rangers. This will allow training to continue without removing rangers from their critical work.
  • Formal instruction will occur at on-site training facilities at or near the rangers’ locations.
Equipment:
  • Each Ranger will be equipped and dressed with a comprehensive inventory of gear, weapons, tools, and communication devices.
  • All equipment will be maintained and inventoried by our team.
VETPAW will also develop Quick Reaction Force (QRF) teams made up of rangers who have shown significant improvement and advancement in training. Once on the ground we will analyze and find medium choke points where human-wildlife interactions are highest. We plan to evaluate entry points, wildlife patterns, community locations in relation to wildlife reserves and parks, as well as local resources to find the best placement of our QRF teams.These teams will work hand-in-hand with our scout teams to relay suspicious human movement in the area, to ensure rapid reaction and response to the flagged areas. Our teams will also utilize ground surveillance technology put into place to support these missions.

In addition, VETPAW will explore the opportunity to procure non-lethal vehicles and equipment from the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) currently being left in Afghanistan. The United States military is leaving or discarding over $7 billion in supplies, due to the expense of transferring them back to the U.S. We have examined the various avenues and authorities available for this endeavor, and will seek an opportunity to work with the U.S. government on the best way to move these supplies to East Africa to better equip the park rangers.

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