It was predicted in January 2016 by Susan Canney, director of the Mali Elephant Project that every single one of Mali’s elephants would be killed by 2019 if poaching continued unabated.
“They are probably among the most extremely endangered of Africa’s elephants,” Iain Douglas-Hamilton said, founder of the Save the Elephants charity, a wildlife advocacy group. “I am extremely worried.”
In order to defend the 300 or so elephants that remained in Mali, they formed an anti-poaching brigade!
The brigade is formed combining rangers as well as army forces, a pairing seen as a necessity to protect wildlife in this hostile territory.
In the nine months since the brigade were deployed, not a SINGLE elephant has been lost to poaches.
The head instructor of the army-ranger brigade, is Rory Young, who co-founded Chengeta Wildlife, an organization which trains and supports anti-poaching operations such as the one in Mali to protect the elephants.
Young, along with his team designed a special training program that incorporates traditional techniques for operating within the bush.
The brigade also hired two chocolate-colored spaniels for extra support, Mitch and Bobby, trained to sniff out ivory during search missions!
The dogs are taken on searches with the team to gain intelligence on the traffickers’ hideouts.
Sergeant Djibril Sangare, a ranger who works with the brigade, said the protection of elephants is vital for Mali and the world’s heritage. Adding that he had never seen an elephant prior to joining the brigade, and now considers them the world’s best animal.
“The work, it is love.” The sergeant said!