These U.S. War Veterans Are Now Fighting for African Rhinos
As home to about 80% of the world's rhino, South Africa is on the front line against poachers who slaughter the animal for its horn, which sells for an estimated $65,000 a kilogram. Rangers use military-style rifles, tracking devices and sniffer dogs to pursue and deter poachers. Photographs by Kevin Sutherland/Bloomberg
The Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife is a New York-based NGO that sends army veterans, many of whom fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and are now struggling to find civilian work, to support and train South African rangers. Founded by former marine Ryan Tate, VETPAW teaches skills including marksmanship, patrolling and community outreach.
The fight is having some success: there were 702 rhinos poached between January and July of 2016, down 11% from the year-earlier period, according to the most recent data from the South African government. Poaching peaked at 1,215 in 2014, up from just 13 seven years earlier.