Confiscated gun weapon with illegal African elephant ivory tusks, Republic of Congo

Since 2010, the illegal killing of elephants in Africa has outpaced natural population replacement rates, and conservationists fear that rhino poaching rates could surpass birth rates in the very near future.

It is rare for data gathered at poaching sites to include the recording of arms and ammunition information. Such records, if properly collected and well managed, can significantly assist arms and ammunition tracing and provide insight into the networks that support and conduct poaching, helping law enforcement to better understand and combat the issue. This can also assist interagency operations combating other related forms of trafficked contraband, including narcotics and illicit firearms.

Wildlife rangers rarely have the opportunity to seize weapons. Fired cartridge cases left at poaching sites and bullets recovered from the remains of dead animals provide the bulk of recoverable physical evidence. There is considerable value in identifying ammunition used in poaching. Correctly gathered ammunition data can indicate sources of distribution, poaching perpetrators and types of weapons used

Armament Research Services (ARES) can support counter-poaching teams which would be tasked to develop actionable intelligence on arms and munitions used by poachers, as well as seeking to identify their networks, suppliers, and enablers. ARES can support organisations engaging in counter-poaching operations in three core areas:

  1. Training – ARES staff can deliver a comprehensive training solution, teaching best practice skills in documenting poaching sites, identification of arms & munitions, evidence handling, sensitive site exploitation (SSE) techniques, counter-proliferation strategies, and other essential tasks at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels.
  2. ID, track, trace – ARES can support your organisation’s counter-poaching operations by identifying, tracking, and tracing documented arms and munitions, in either the first instance or as part of an independent verification mechanism.
  3. Operations – ARES staff can fully integrate with the client’s operational teams, providing a ‘boots on the ground’ solution and allowing your organisation to greatly enhance its capability to gather actionable intelligence from poaching sites.


Training is often delivered to support operations under the ‘F3EAD’ targeting methodology. This model allows for a fusion of operations and intelligence requirements, and places an emphasis on producing actionable intelligence. Intelligence gathered by teams supported by ARES can feed intelligence back to relevant state and non-state security forces to assist in the ongoing targeting of poaching networks.

Image from WWF.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.