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The Moon – The Lantern of the Poachers

The Moon – The Lantern of the Poachers

  • Lola Lopez • Program Director of Luwire Natural Reserve

In the last few days we have observed a magnificent full moon that left us mesmerized with its delicate beauty and shimmering light. Many of us don’t know that this star is the only natural satellite on planet Earth, and that besides providing us with spectacular views at night, it has a huge gravitational influence that results in the different seasons of the year and the constant changes of tides in the water world. In addition to being surrounded by scientific and astronomical fundamentals, the moon is also a mythical celestial body where stories abound about werewolves and dark creatures that appear in its blinding light. Unfortunately, these figures are not mythical, these demons that come out to destroy on the full moon are deadly.

Hunters, as well as other creatures of the night, love and idolize the full moon because it allows them to move with ease and see clearly without the aid of any artificial light that might reveal their location. For this reason, each full moon signifies a red alert for the inspectors who patrol parks and reserves in protected areas throughout the region. It is at this time of the month that anti-poaching teams, increase their patrols for a few days to better tackle the poachers.

For the inspectors, the full moon period is known as the ‘dark period’. Patrols are intensified to try to locate and stop any attempted crimes by poachers. After dark, the ground units position themselves at their patrol posts where they remain on alert throughout the night. At first light, they check the effectiveness of the night operations and confirm the absence of any incidents or losses. During this period all attention is short, and all means of patrolling are indispensable, but without a doubt the most important tool is the commitment and bravery of the patrolmen, who most of the time patrol very large areas, with difficult access and with the permanent risk of being attacked by wild animals or poachers.

Finally, the use of modern surveillance and tracking technologies contribute significantly to reduce the efficiency of illegal operations both by the eventual poacher and also by the large criminal networks that are involved in the international trafficking of products derived from protected species. Some of these products are ivory, rhino horn, pangolin, lion and leopard parts among others.

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So the next time you are mesmerized by the magic of the full moon, remember that this euphoria of light carries with it a threat to our most vulnerable species. As the number of protected species continues to decline, it is more important than ever to show support for the enforcement teams who fight tirelessly in the war against poaching.

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