Kinessa Johnson is a US Army veteran who served for 4 years in Afghanistan, this week she arrived in Africa to take on a different kind of enemy. Her new mission is, as she puts it, “We’re going over there to do some anti-poaching, kill some bad guys, and do some good.” She is now enlisted with Veterans Empowered To Protect African Wildlife (VETPAW) as an anti-poaching advisor. VETPAW is a not-for-profit organization that employs US Veterans to help protect African wildlife from being illegally hunted and captured.
Ms. Johnson and her team of fellow Vets arrived in Tanzania on March 26th and began their work. She has already noticed a decrease in poaching activity in her team’s immediate area because their presence is known. Which is easy to understand, who would want to fight it out with a battle proven warrior like Johnson? Her team’s primary focus will be training park rangers and patrolling with them to provide support. African park rangers are in serious need of assistance, as she mentions, “they lost about 187 guys last year over trying to save rhinos and elephants.” The training they will provide includes marksmanship, field medicine, and counter-intelligence.
Johnson joined VETPAW because she loves animals and protecting endangered species is close to her heart. Africa has the largest populations of rhinos and elephants in the world, making it the frontline for defending these endangered species that are top targets for poachers. Additionally, revenue from the sale of products from poached animals is often used to fund war and terrorism in Africa. She says that after the obvious first priority of enforcing existing poaching laws, educating the locals on protecting their country’s natural resources is most important overall.
Ms. Johnson has taken to social media to help raise money and awareness for the cause and she now has over 44,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram. Checkout her profiles where she has some amazing photos of exotic African animals and updates on what her team is doing. While we all don’t have the skills to take up arms to combat poaching, you can support Johnson and her team by donating to VETPAW and sharing their mission. Soon you’ll be able to watch Johnson and her team on a new show on the Discovery Channel.
It’s really awesome to see men and women like Johnson who have served their country now serving the world by protecting some of its most precious resources. When asked if her or her team had killed any poachers yet in a Q & A on Reddit she stated, “We don’t operate with the intent to kill anyone.” The African poachers would be well advised no to test this All-American badass on that though.
Watch the video below where Johnson announced her new mission! (She starts discussing at mark 1:23)