International anti-poaching unit trains Swazi cops, rangers

2016-04-07 16:06


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Mbombela - A new international unit is fighting poaching wars in the Royal Kingdom of Swaziland.

The newly established Endangered Species Protection Agency (ESPA) is a training entity manned by highly qualified and trained former members of the British and US Special Forces.

They have been quietly involved in the training of an anti-poaching unit comprising game rangers and a specialist group of the Royal Swazi Police, in the war against rhino poaching in the neighbouring country.

"The protection of endangered species includes rhino, but it is not limited to them. It also includes elephant, gorilla, orangutan and the tiger. The ESPA has no political allegiances and is solely committed to the preservation of endangered species," said ESPA spokesperson Martin Hewitt.

Hewitt, a former officer of Her Majesty's 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment, told a News24 correspondent that Operation Alpha was working with Swaziland's Big Game Parks (BGP).

Effective war against poaching

BGP's head of conservation and security, Mick Reilly, said rhino poaching was a widespread threat in Southern Africa.

"I believe that there is no longer any such thing as a safe rhino. This pre-historic species is now entirely dependent on humans for its continued existence. This training is one of the crucial and commendable roles that organisations such as ESPA can perform to assist Africa’s conservation agencies in this life and death stand off," said Reilly.

When News24 spoke to the head of special projects at South African National Parks, Major-General Johan Jooste, he had not heard of this specialised anti-poaching unit.

"It is true that our effective war against poaching in the Kruger [is] forcing poachers to look for other targets and Reilly’s doing the right thing by not waiting for the incursions to happen before doing something about it. I would like to meet this team," said Jooste.

During Operation Alpha, ESPA offered three different types of services: Physical training and the management of crime scenes, operational support and investigation.

The investigation aspect includes infiltrating criminal syndicates, forensic science and bringing culprits to book. 

Read more on:    swaziland  |  conservation  |  rhino poaching  |  southern africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.