One word that galvanized the radio room into action… AK47. The report came from a community informer: two men entering the rhino area with the gun.
The Big Life Rapid Response Unit (RRU) went straight to join the rangers already in the area. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) reaction was immediate and their RRU arrived within hours. With our aircraft undergoing maintenance the David Sheldrick Trust, always to be relied on, scrambled a spotter aircraft immediately.
In no time ambushes were set up and patrols moved in to comb the area, but by sunset nothing had been seen or heard. Early next morning: a breakthrough when a foot patrol picked up the tracks of two men leaving the area.
The tracks lead them to a camel camp on the borders of the Park, where the herders were rounded up and interrogated. And slowly the story emerged. Two herders had set off the previous day in search of a lost camel, one of them carrying a rucksack with an umbrella strapped to the side. From a distance the folded umbrella looked exactly like an AK-47, the handle forming the shape of the magazine, and the metal top the barrel.
The relief was immense, but one thing emerged. A demonstration of Big Life’s capacity to react immediately, with partners, to these emergency situations in which wildlife is threatened. We certainly hope that any potential poachers were watching.