When his survey in the Central African Republic revealed the impact of poaching, conservationist Bruce Hayse organized an independent army to protect the region's wildlife and its terrorized villagers. Here, he discusses waging a hot war against heavily armed poachers.
In November 1999, while making a tsetse-filled and malaria-plagued first descent of the Central African Republic's Chinko River [see photo gallery], conservationist Bruce Hayse observed something he didn't like: elephant, buffalo, and hippo populations annihilated by Sudanese poachers. The poachers, who for ten years had been wreaking havoc on the country's wildlife, had been profiting from the booming bush-meat trade.
After witnessing the devastation, Hayse developed a program to protect the animals of the Chinko Basin. And in 2001, Ange-Félix Patassé, president of the Central African Republic (CAR), authorized Hayse's nonprofit group, African Rainforest and Rivers Conservation, to run an armed, independent defense operation to safeguard 100,000 square miles [260,000 square kilometers] of eastern CAR rain forest and savanna from the slaughter. (See "Conservation Crusaders" in the January/February 2002 Adventure.)
Online, Hayse discusses what the biggest threats are to his campaign to save this vulnerable region.