*Night vision goggles
*Bullet proof armour
With a checklist like this, we could be talking about an army. Yet it is also the equipment used by the modern-day poacher. With the horn fetching more on the black market than cocaine or even gold, everyone wants a piece of the pie. The low-level men who DO the poaching are being funded by higher level organizations with whatever supplies are necessary to bring in the “goods”.
The level of corruption runs far and wide. Militias, rebel groups, intelligence officials, Irish gangsters , Vietnamese diplomats, Chinese scientists, copter pilots, antiques dealers and recently an American rodeo star who used Facebook to find horns, are all getting their hands dirty with poaching. Even Thai prostitutes and pimps are getting involved. The prostitutes were hired by a criminal syndicate to obtain hunting permits (through some loopholes) and got “professional” hunters to make the kill and bring in the horn.
Of course poverty-stricken villagers often turn to poaching to support their families. A corrupt minority of game farmers, professional hunters, and safari operators are involved as well. But what I believe is the highest level is betrayal is the involvement of veterinarians.
The veterinarians who work with large mammals have access to M99-a drug that is 1000 times more powerful than morphine. The supply is restricted, and supposedly only accessible by vets. Yet somehow poachers are getting their hands on this potent tranquilizer.
The majority of vets work tirelessly and fervently , giving the victims of poaching round the clock care and treatment to save their lives. Along with the rangers in the anti-poaching units, veterinarians ARE the foot soldiers in this war, an integral part of rhino and elephant survival. As a former member of a veterinary staff, I know all too well the highs and lows of the job. There is no 9-5, no glory, and certainly not a high level of pay. But where is their passion? Their hearts have hardened, their patients betrayed in the name of greed; an unforgivable evil.