On average 2 rhinos and 96 elephants are slaughtered each day.
In the last ten years over 1,000 rangers have been killed.
Should there be a shoot-to-kill policy? Would it help? The controversy is widely debated.
But what do the rangers think?
I spoke to several rangers to get their thoughts.
One ranger said,
“Most of the poachers are poor locals surrounding the wildlife reserves and they see the reserves as their source of income. What is needed is to empower people near the reserves economically, pass on scheme of goats, dairy cows, sending poor children to school… they will become role models to the community and people will begin to appreciates the importance of conserving animals.
We can shoot ten poachers a day, suppose they are all men- surely their families will suffer and later become poachers as means of survival. We shoot at poachers when our lives and that of our friends are in danger but shooting down any poacher it’s not solution.”
Another who works in a large reserve said,
“I don’t think it will help because we normally look for deep information & investigations on a suspect caught that may lead to their middlemen, bosses etc.”
But overall most of them were in favor of the policy.
“Keeping them alive sometimes does not help because the source of poaching is dealing with big people, often from government offices. So it’s a bit risky for the rangers who arrest them.”
“This thing of arrest, it throws us backwards to winning this war of poaching. The more that are arrested, the more they are replaced by new poachers.”
“In courts things turn ugly for most of our rangers who killed poachers due to poachers kingpins paying prosecutors money to let their associates off the hook. (If it were a policy, the government would support rangers without the extensive interrogation)
“Yes, yes, yes! They should be shot. Because the rhinos are killed, but also the rangers. I think it is the only way to win this war.”