With all the wars raging in the world how can anyone even be worried about saving an African animal species? With terrorist organizations such as Isis and Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram running rampant why should precious resources and money be given to those who are protecting and conserving Africa’s rhino? Surely it is an African problem? Surely it is just an animal?

Wrong! Rhino horn is the most valuable substance on earth, worth more than diamonds, more than gold, more than cocaine or any other commodity you can think of. On the black-market rhino horn is selling for an average of $75 000 per kilogram. An average adult rhino horn weighs about 3kgs. That’s $225 000 per horn. 5 rhino horn can fit into a ruck sack. Do the math.

Rhino horn is funding terrorism. It really is as simple as that. In a recent article by SBS Australia it revealed that the UN and Interpol warns that the poaching industry is worth $213 billion and funds armed conflicts across the globe. Just animal you say? Achim Steiner, head of the United Nations Environment Program, said that environmental crime is “a financing machine” for militias, extremist groups, and armed conflict.

So, are we realising that rhino and elephant poaching is not “just an African problem”? It is a global one that affects everyone. Paris, Belgium, London, Nigeria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria need we carry on listing all the places that have been affected by terrorism? But wait, rhino is just an animal that resides on the African continent. Rhino and elephant poaching are an African problem.

Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife (VETPAW) realised this a while ago. Why? Because the founder of VETPAW is a US Marine veteran who fought in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan against these terrorist organisations, which are being funded by the illicit trade in rhino horn and ivory. He is a veteran who has put his immense skills and training into creating a counter poaching organisation that employs US military veterans to protect African rhino, elephant and other endangered species.

“We not only have our own counter poaching teams that operate full time in South Africa, we also believe that up-skilling and training the rangers that currently protect wildlife is critical. The wildlife reserves are spreading themselves very thin protecting their animals. By way of example a small reserve that has only six rhino on it are spending $5000 a month just on anti poaching and protection. That is a lot of money here in South Africa,” comments Ryan Tate Founder of VETPAW.

The veterans that are employed by VETPAW have had years of training and experience in fighting terrorist insurgencies. They have received the best training in the world. Now, they put this training to work protecting rhino and elephant against poaching. VETPAW receives funding through donations. In this way they are able to assist reserves and private rhino owners protect their rhino and elephant at literally zero cost to the reserve owners, that is our commitment to saving these animals.

Last year 1154 rhino were poached and killed in South Africa. The year before that the figure was 1172. There is an estimated 8000 rhino left in South Africa which means that the species could be wiped out by 2023, which only six years from now. It’s not that long is it?

If you would like to donate to VETPAW’s mission in Africa please click here https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/vetpaw2015 help us to help them.