How rhino protectors in South Africa have become a major threat to the species

The long-awaited trial of a star wildlife ranger on poaching-related charges illustrates the extent of criminal syndicates’ reach in Kruger National Park.

Kruger National Park, South AfricaA sweet mix of coffee and rooibos tea wafts a familiar comfort into the aircraft hangar at the headquarters of Kruger National Park, in Skukuza, South Africa. A languid atmosphere prevails in the lull between the action that erupts when a report of rhino poachers is radioed in.

Don English, a regional ranger helping lead the park’s fight against poaching, is settled into a faded armchair in the hangar’s small sitting room, leg folded across his knee. At the time of this interview, in July 2019, English oversaw the area in Kruger that’s home to more rhinos than in any other section of the 7,500-square-mile park, which borders Mozambique.

In conversation, his words usually tumble out softly. But at the mention of a former friend and colleague, his tone sharpens, and his face hardens.

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