After being an army instructor for 4 years and a tour in Afghanistan, Army veteran Kinessa Johnson wanted to keep fighting, but not in uniform. Johnson channeled her experience and passion as a weapons instructor into animal welfare: she joined the non-profit organization Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife (VETPAW), training park rangers in various techniques to aid in tracking and capturing poachers.
She’s been a member of the organization since November 2014 and is currently training female park rangers in Tanzania. According to USA Today, Johnson emphasized the goal of the organization is not to harm, but to train park rangers to track and detain illegal hunters without ever firing a gun.
“Our intention is not to harm anyone; we’re here to train park rangers so they can track and detain poachers and ultimately prevent poaching. Most of the time, anyone that is in a reserve with a weapon is considered a threat and can be shot if rangers feel threatened. ur goal is to prevent trigger pulling through strategic movements and methods of prevention.”
Johnson also emphasizes that she does not hunt poachers. ” I’m a technical adviser to anti-poaching rangers so I patrol routinely with them and also assist in intelligence operations,” says Johnson. The organization’s efforts seem to be paying off as there is a notable decrease in poaching where VETPAW is present.