DestinationsAfrica

Kenyan civilians arm themselves to protect elephants and tourism

Skift Take

Kenyan communities see it in their economic interests to take up arms against poachers. Perhaps it is a model for other countries in Africa to take up the uphill battle to fight the ivory trade.

— Dennis Schaal

From Tanzania to Cameroon, tens of thousands of elephants are being poached each year, more than at any time in decades, because of Asia’s soaring demand for ivory.

But in this stretch of northern Kenya, destitute villagers have seized upon an unconventional solution that, if replicated elsewhere, could be the key to saving thousands of elephants across Africa, conservationists say. In a growing number of communities here, people are so eager, even desperate, to protect their wildlife that civilians with no military experience are banding together, grabbing shotguns and G3 assault rifles and risking their lives to confront heavily armed poaching gangs.

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