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Adventure Main | E-Mail the Editors | Adventure Customer Service | Subscribe October 2002



Tom Clynes
Writer Tom Clynes



Life on Assignment
Among Africa's Eco-Mercenaries
They're trained to kill, with orders to shoot on sight. Could they be the saviors of Africa's wildlife? Writer Tom Clynes went deep into the Central African Republic to find out. Here he reveals the stories behind his new article, "They Shoot Poachers, Don't They?"

This year Wyoming conservationists took their battle overseas into the savanna of the Central African Republic. With the permission of President Ange-Félix Patassé to shoot on sight, the group is raising a militia to patrol the eastern third of the African country for poachers.

Writer Tom Clynes spent nearly a month with the hired guns in this latest effort to stop the bush-meat trade, perhaps the preeminent threat to African wildlife today. The assignment was as complicated as it was fascinating.

"The good stories begin with intriguing questions. And in this case the questions were complicated and quite epic. You had a bunch of Americans who had basically convinced a leader of a Third World country to let them raise an army and take over a third of the country with shoot-on-sight authority," says Clynes. "I had a good idea how I felt about this kind of thing: Killing is wrong—end of argument."

By the end of his visit, Clynes's assumptions would be drastically challenged. For his take on this eye-opening assignment, listen to the audio clips at left.

—Nicole Davis

Read an excerpt of Clynes's
article "They Shoot Poachers, Don't They?" >>


Forum: Is hiring a private army to kill the people
who kill the animals a viable solution? >>





Photograph by Chris Anderson
 

Audio

Download RealPlayer

Layers of Intrigue (3:59)
"A bunch of conservationists from Wyoming had convinced the president of the Central African Republic to let them raise a militia to take over a third of the country and drive out Sudanese poachers. "
LISTEN
RealPlayer 28.8 | 56.6


To Kill or Not to Kill (4:27)
"When the Sudanese poachers come in, it's really like a Viking raid. There're robberies, murders, kidnappings, forced labor—all sorts of atrocities."
LISTEN
RealPlayer 28.8 | 56.6


The Bush-Meat Trade (4:06)
"There are wealthy urban Africans that are paying a premium for so-called prestige meats like gorilla and elephant, and they are also sometimes exporting them illegally to African expatriates in Europe and elsewhere."
LISTEN
RealPlayer 28.8 | 56.6


Bush-Meat Market (3:28)
"The carnage was absolutely amazing: lizards and monkeys and giant porcupines and buffaloes and small antelopes just being cut up and smoked over a fire. "
LISTEN
RealPlayer 28.8 | 56.6


Master of the Militia (2:16)
"Bruce Hayse is a doctor from Wyoming. He knew that to save this place people were going to have to be killed. "
LISTEN
RealPlayer 28.8 | 56.6


Ulterior Motive (3:46)
"[The president of the Central African Republic] was willing to let these Americans play sheriff in his country because it would allow him to extend his influence to an area that has been out of control for a long time. "
LISTEN
RealPlayer 28.8 | 56.6


The Need for Lethal Force (4:36)
"[The poachers] are Sudanese military and ex-military. And basically you have no choice but to shoot first with them. It's the Wild West."
LISTEN
RealPlayer 28.8 | 56.6


Eco-Colonialism? (3:13)
"Why should white people come in and tell them that they can't use their resources?"
LISTEN
RealPlayer 28.8 | 56.6




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October 2002:



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