WATCH: 1 SCOTS’ mission to Gabon well underway

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Soldiers from 1 SCOTS (Royal Scots Borderers) have been training park rangers and native trackers in Gabon to help save one of the last strongholds of the African Forest Elephant - a subspecies facing extinction as ivory poaching reaches epidemic levels across a wide swathe of the Congo River basin in West Africa.

After a request for help from President Ondimba of Gabon, a team of troops from 2 Rifles based at Lisburn and 1 SCOTS based at Holywood in Northern Ireland have spent the last month deep in the African forests passing on military skills including patrolling techniques and preservation of evidence as well as anti-ambush and analysis techniques.

Major Mark Shercliffe commented: “The students are highly motivated, keen to learn and keen to complete the training and then get back onto the front line”, he said. Several years ago an estimated 22,000 forest elephants roamed the region – there are now believed to be less than 7,000.