MANCHESTER, England, Aug. 17 (UPI) — Some conservation programs in Africa are willing to use shoot-to-kill campaigns against poachers to protect endangered species, a British researcher says.
An academic at the University of Manchester in England says private security firms and mercenaries are being used to train game rangers to mount military-style campaigns against poachers, the BBC reported Monday.
Professor Rosaleen Duffy, who has researched the issue for 15 years, says the development of nature tourism has meant international pressure to save high-profile species is intense and has led to extreme protection efforts, including killing poachers outright.
“Because private military operations and also park rangers are given authority to shoot on sight the suspected poachers, then they can shoot first and ask questions later,” Duffy said.
In the escalating war over wildlife, local people may be mistakenly regarded as threats, she said.
“I think what happens then is that local people get justifiably very angry about people being shot because they’re suspected of poaching whereas in fact what they might be doing is simply taking a short cut through a national park or they might be collecting grass for thatch,” she said.
Duffy concedes that some poachers are heavily armed professionals — often former members of security forces — who are only too willing to open fire themselves.
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