Prince Harry of the U.K. has joined the war on poachers in Kruger National Park, South Africa, where rhinoceros poachers have run rampant.
Harry was flown into a military camp in Kruger Park, and he’s been going on night patrols with an army unit as part of the government’s anti-poaching campaign.
— Animals1st (@Animals1st) August 9, 2015
South Africa has deployed a few hundred infantry, 400 armed rangers, and 150 other personnel–including police and special forces–to take down criminal gangs armed with machetes and rifles.
Harry joined the unit last Wednesday after he was secretly transported to the country.
South Africa’s News24 reported Harry was involved in a poaching shootout last week.
SANParks told the site: “The rangers encountered three suspected poachers; a shoot-out ensued during which one poacher was wounded.”
Three suspects were arrested and hunting rifles, silencers, ammunition, and other poaching equipment were confiscated.
— Daily Mail U.K. (@DailyMailUK) August 9, 2015
“Just a week after commemorating World Ranger Day I want to again commend our rangers for their hard work together with other law enforcement units including the South African Police Service,” Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa said in a statement.
Harry’s army unit can also call in a helicopter with thermal imaging to spot poachers in the park. The chopper carries five men with automatic weapons, and according to MailOnline, the prince can use his experience flying Apache helicopters to act as co-pilot or take the controls if need be.
As many as 40 poachers from neighboring Mozambique go into the park every night. They’re armed with rifles, machetes, axes, and even grenades.
Retired Major-General Johan Jooste said, “This is a declaration of war against South Africa by armed foreign criminals. We are taking the war to these armed bandits and we aim to win it.”
He told MailOnline in an exclusive that he welcomed Harry’s arrival. “Harry will be with me for quite some time. We’ll try to keep him safe,” he was quoted a saying.
This year, as many as 558 rhinos have been killed in the park, according to conservation groups. Poachers kill the large animals for their horns, which can fetch tens of thousands of dollars on the Asian black market–namely China.