A well-known Zambian-born Irish ranger has been killed in Burkina Faso along with two Spanish journalists as they were filming a documentary about anti-poaching activities in the Western African nation when their convoy was ambushed.
The killings on Monday came as violence is increasing in Burkina Faso and the security situation in the Sahel is deteriorating, especially in the border area of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
Burkina Faso has seen attacks from many armed groups, several of them linked to the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
The conservation organization Chengeta Wildlife said its co-founder and chief executive, Rory Young, was the third victim.
Mr. Beriain and Mr. Fraile were following Mr. Young, a Zambia-born Irish national based in Livingstone for their documentary, Chengeta Wildlife said on Facebook.
“It is with deepest sorrow and regret that Chengeta Wildlife confirms the death of Rory Young, our co-founder and CEO. Rory was leading a wildlife protection patrol in Arly National Park, Burkina Faso on 26th April 2021 when they were attacked by terrorists which resulted in his death and that of two Spanish journalists who were capturing his efforts to protect precious wildlife,” the statement read.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased right now. We respectfully request your patience, time and understanding as we deal with the loss of our inspirational leader.”
Mr. Young was a well-respected guide and ranger who had worked in several African countries, and whose organization provides a mix of traditional training to detect poaching groups, and crime scene investigation skills. Mr. Young had said that his organization was training 900 rangers and other personnel last year to track poaching and wildlife trafficking activities.
In his last Instagram post on Friday, Mr. Young said learning to track animals was like learning to read.
“It opens up a whole world of knowledge,” he wrote.
In 2017, Mr. Young of Chengeta Wildlife told The New York Times that the organization’s anti-poaching activities were only possible if it managed to build constructive relationships with the local populations to stay updated on events in the region.
“Without the community there is no solution,” Mr. Young said.
Yet Mr. Young also often acknowledged the risks of the rangers’ mission. In July, he wrote on Instagram about training local rangers.
“We do that with them on the frontline,” he wrote.
The ambush, in the reserve of Pama, part of the Arli National Park, occurred near Pendjari National Park, where a guide from Benin and two French tourists were abducted in 2019.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of Spain confirmed the deaths of the two Spanish journalists, whom he identified on Twitter as David Beriain and Roberto Fraile.
Movistar+, the Spanish television platform for which Mr. Beriain was filming the documentary, confirmed that Mr. Young was the third victim.
The two journalists were part of a group of 40 who were ambushed on Monday in a nature reserve in eastern Burkina Faso near the border with Benin, said Arancha González Laya, Spain’s foreign minister.
The authorities in Burkina Faso said in a statement on Tuesday evening that the country had faced “a resurgence of terrorist acts” since Sunday, and that around 10 people had been killed in several attacks.
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