By Ryan Grenoble
Kenyan elephants may soon sleep a bit more soundly knowing they have a new ally in the fight against poachers: elite British paratroopers.
In the next month, 25 soldiers from England's 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment, will report to Kenya to help train park rangers on how to counter elephant poachers. The Guardian reports the soldiers will not patrol on their own; instead, they will teach rangers how to work more effectively as a team and how to respond when they encounter "increasingly militarized" poachers.
"By joining forces with those on the front line in Kenya, our armed services will be able to provide training and support to the courageous people who put their lives on the line every day to protect these animals," British Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said in a media release.
In addition to the more obvious positive environmental impacts, the soldiers' efforts could help stem the flow of money to terrorist organizations, like Al-Shabaab, reports suggest.
Every month, the al Qaeda-linked terror group is believed to bring in nearly $650,000 through poaching elephants and selling rhino horns on the black market, England's Daily Express reports. The money helps fund its terrorist activities elsewhere in the world. (Conservation group Elephant Action League has labeled ivory from tusks -- valued at $1,000 per pound -- the "white gold of jihad.")
According to the Washington Post, an estimated 30,000 elephants were killed illegally in 2012. Paterson appears dedicated to taking action.
"Illegal poaching is having a devastating effect on some of the world’s most iconic species and we must work together to tackle it," he said in the media release.