As we approach the full moon on the 6th of September, our partners in South Africa prepare themselves for increased poaching activity. Every full moon signifies high alert for rangers and anti-poaching teams. Instead of contemplating the beauty of the moon, they will be on full alert during patrols throughout the nights this coming week.
We have all heard stories about the mythical full moon, about the werewolves and dark creatures appearing during its blinding light. Unfortunately they are not mythical and they are not werewolves, they are deadly poachers.
Poachers love the full moon as it makes it possible for them to move and see through the night without using artificial lights. Protected by the darkness and without the need for torches, which could disclose their position.
To us the full moon period is known as the ”dark period”. We intensify the air patrols and we keep our aircrafts in the sky til last light to try to spot or deter poachers. After dark the ground units take up position patrolling through the night. At first light we are back up in the sky scanning and following up on any tips that come in during the night.- Pilot, F4R
When asking our partner The Protrack Rhino Task Team how they prepare themselves for the full moon period they state:
With the full moon apon us we are more vigilant than usual.
During this period we will be working known routes as well as gambling on new spots. We are making use of technology as well as “old school” patrolling styles. We try to mix things up and not follow routines. If we change our tactics, so do the poachers and this can force them to make mistakes. – Park ranger & Dog handler, Protrack