South African National Parks Field Grenade Launchers

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It appears that South African National Parks has teamed up with the South African weapons manufacturer MILKOR to provide the parks anti-poaching team with some heavy firepower. Milkor has added at least two of the 40mm launchers to the park’s growing armory, a lightweight UBGL launcher and  Milkor’s multiple grenade launcher.

You might be wondering why a national park needs the ability to lob grenades towards poachers, so here are some facts about poaching in the parks.

  • More than 5000 rhinos have been poached in the last eight years.
  • As of May this year, there have been 363 rhinos poached this year alone.
  • 232 rhinos were poached in Kruger Park, 50 in KwaZulu-Natal, 30 in Limpopo, 15 in North West, 14 in Mpumalanga, 13 in Eastern Cape, 5 in the Northern Cape and 3 in the Free State.
  • The conviction rate of poachers between April 2015 and march of this year has been rather high at 78% of those charged are found guilty.

Over recent years SANParks has been both heralded and criticized for it’s shift to a more militarized approach to fighting poachers. Milkor’s chief executive Marius Roos presented park staff with the two launchers at a press conference on July 22nd. During the press conference SANParks’ Head of Special Projects, Johan Jooste, stated that no lethal ammunition will be acquired and the weapons will be used “to flush the poachers out of the bush”. He then went on to say that the teargas rounds they plan to use are not dangerous to animals and would be environmentally friendly but could not say that it would have zero impact but they will do everything they can to minimize that impact.

Hat tip to Wouter for the tip.

Grenade+launcher+SANParks

Photo: NEO GOBA



Patrick R

Patrick is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and works in the shooting sports industry. He is an avid recreational shooter and a verified gun nerd. With a lifelong passion for shooting, he has a love for all types of firearms, especially handguns and the AR-15 platform. Patrick may be contacted at tfbpatrick@gmail.com.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Shoot to kill and watch the numbers drop.

    • c4v3man

      I would assume that the number of poachers would drop significantly, however the number of poached animals would only drop slightly. Let’s face it, there’s a black market with inflated prices for illegal animal parts, and if the supply drops, prices will rise. This will drive dedicated poachers to change their tactics and increase their “harvest” accordingly. At some point you’d have to imagine that large poaching operations would start capturing and breeding endangered species once their numbers drop enough, and prices rise to match.

      Poachers… the armed robbers of the natural world.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Thats a possibility but poachers do not have unlimited resources and technology like say the drug cartels. There is a limit to their ingenuity.
        Kill enough of them and the business will become unattractive.

        • Giolli Joker

          There’s to say that the actual poachers are mostly illiterate people with empty bellies and a rifle.
          The ones controlling them can easily find other arms attached to an empty belly willing to do that dirty job…

          • JumpIf NotZero

            In Durban (city in the south of KZN) I saw urban poor like I’ve never seen before. I’ve seen pigeons with more restraint in eating things on the ground. Sad for sure, but something about it was unlike anywhere else I’ve been.

            Give that guy a rifle and tell him he won’t be hungry anymore – he’d kill a rhino just for the chance to go kill a rhino.

          • Matt Wilder

            It’s funny you mention that. My wife was born and raised in Durban (but in the much nicer part up by Woodlands), and your assessment is quite true for many parts; however, I don’t think it’s much worse than some of the inner cities in New Jersey, such as Jersey City, Paterson, or Newark, which were all near me when I grew up in NJ before we all ditched for Florida for obvious reasons.

            However, get outside of the Durbs, and it’s stunningly beautiful. On a side note, but totally related, my father-in-law just started a weekend/part-time job as a park ranger. He’s licensed to carry, and he sure as hell does while on patrol from what I understand. Both him and his wife were ZA Army, and FANTASTIC shots. He still shoots with their rifle team sometimes and at some matches, and my mother-in-law still is active Army, so let’s just say, I treat his daughter like gold!

    • Jwedel1231

      They do. All the profesional hunters in Africa shoot poachers on sight, they inform the game rangers whenever they see them next. Poachers are able to operate freely in areas that have outlawed hunting (since no one else goes out there), in areas where hunting is still going on there are too many foreign nationals on ‘safari’ and their guides looking for the same animals as the poachers.

      tl;dr, hunters shoot poachers, outlawing hunting destroys endangered species.

      • HSR47

        That, and hunting brings in people willing to open their wallets.

        That means jobs that pay VERY well, and it means a lot of money coming into the the area. When it filters down, that means that people become wealthy enough that it reduces losses to animals (e.g. predators thinning out herds of livestock and herbivores decimating crops) to a simple nuisance rather than a disaster.

        When those animals attract wealthy people who want to spend a lot of money to kill them, it makes it worthwhile to keep them around. This means that EVERYONE is incentivized to work against the poachers: The hunters want to take the animals, and everyone else wants the money those hunters bring with them. In other words, where hunting is legal, the incentives reward everyone who works against the poachers.

        When hunting is illegal, and the individual citizens are competing with these animals for scarce resources necessary for survival (i.e. people starve when animals eat crops and/or livestock), they are incentivized to help (or at least not obstruct) the poachers. Similarly, as the poachers are the only outsiders with money, corrupt government officials are incentivized to help them (or at least turn a blind eye to them) as well. Thus, in areas where hunting is prohibited, everyone is incentivized to aid the poachers.

        Thus, trophy hunting is significantly better for these species, because it monetizes them, and gets everyone on board with keeping them around. Some may find that perverse, but their choice is simple: They can either embrace trophy hunting, or they can allow poachers to drive every one of these species to extinction.

        • Sunshine_Shooter

          Extremely well said.

    • gusto

      How about shooting the rich chinese impotent dudes instead?

      No sympathy for the poor bastards in africa who are risking their lives to make a living? it is not like they have much of a choice, if givne the choice they probably wouldn’t be out doing it…

      it is not their frekkin fault

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        That’s fair.
        Or we could go back in time and shoot the people in the us government who purposely destabilized African institutions.

  • CoastaieGM

    Did not know there where a whole lot of rhinos in south america.

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      A tiger……in Africa??

      • Lemdarel

        Well, it’s probably escaped from a zoo.

        • TheNotoriousIUD

          So it’ll just…grow back then??

    • Giolli Joker

      There are a few hippos though, thanks to Pablo Escobar.

    • Edeco

      No indeed, New World rhinos are really, terribly critically endangered.

  • TVOrZ6dw

    Rhinos must taste really good if they are being poached all the way from South America.

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      Sear on each side in a cast iron skillet for two minutes and then broil for 3-5 depending on thickness.

      • JumpIf NotZero

        lol, conventional… Sous Vide or GTFO.

        • TheNotoriousIUD

          You don’t need to get fancy if you have a good cut of meat.

        • Giolli Joker

          Hipster. 😛

        • iksnilol

          Yuck, boiling meat.

          *smh

  • Sasquatch

    Ummm South African or South American? Just confuse that’s all.

  • A bearded being from beyond ti

    A grenade launcher for anti-poaching sounds a bit overkill.

    • Twilight sparkle

      Did you want to preserve the meat or something?

      • A bearded being from beyond ti

        uuhhh

    • roguetechie

      Honestly did you read the article? Nonlethal rounds only to be procured for the launchers.

  • Urker

    Too bad they won’t deliver. Like the last three orders. Should have bought American!

    • iksnilol

      Uh, IIRC the US also uses Milkor MGLs.

  • CupAJoe

    must be south African America

  • Tom

    There is actually a plan in motion at the moment to move an entire heard of both Black and White Rhinos to Australia and let them roam free in the outback so I guess there is hope that they will make it to South America as well :).

    • Anon. E Maus

      Really, the Aussies are going to introduce even MORE foreign species to their eco system? This is going to be a disaster.

      • Tom

        The idea is that in addition to protecting them from poachers they will eat the non native plants many of which go unchecked as nothing in Australia eats them. I imagine there will be some fences to keep them in a designated area – its not like Australia does not have space to make a reserve of several hundred miles.

  • JumpIf NotZero

    Grenade launchers are the ABSOLUTELY LAST thing that anti-poachers need.

    I was in KZN (KwaZuluNatal) last year and spent a little time talking with the protection crews assigned to each rhino.

    2 man crews, they had a ragged and beat mixed assortment of 12ga shotguns, and almost no training.

    It’s pretty boring work as Rhinos are basically prized lazy cows, they spend the day eating and sleeping, a little roaming but not too much. They were glad when the rhinos would get near each other so the 2-man crews could get together and chat if only on each side of a fence between game reserves.

    I watched a guy with really old winchester pump take the barrel and set it on his foot, safety was off. I’m fairly sure a round wasn’t chambered, but still, each muzzle had dirt all over it, these guys weren’t gun guys.

    The terrain was like Wyoming, Montana, Dakotas, Colorado. These guys needed rifles and training.

    …. Grenade launchers with less lethal ammo that is about as short range as the shotguns they’re carrying now…. Of course.

    • roguetechie

      I was under the impression that they had a mix of R4 and R1 rifles from south African military stocks. The R4 BTW is essentially a galil variant made in south Africa. The R1 is a fal either domestically produced or Belgian, can’t remember which.

      I can actually see the logic of the milkor launchers, especially with nonlethal rounds. Say you’re a ranger and your OP is above and away from rhinos. Now your poachers suddenly show up between the rhinos and your OP. you can’t very well let fly with your lethal weapons because the animals you’re trying to protect would likely get hurt or killed in a gunfire exchange. Now, if you have an mgl you can pop 2-3 rounds of teargas into the group disperse them and get them out from between the rhinos and you. At that point your radio and time become your friends since you can now keep one guy in overwatch vectoring his partner on the radio to pick off individual poachers who are suddenly much more interested in saving themselves than operating as a team.

      Correct me if I’m off base here, but it seems like the logical way to employ them to me.

      • JumpIf NotZero

        The ONLY rifles I saw in KZN were guards at the park entrances, FALs mostly, there could have been an R4 around and I just missed it.

        Popping tear gas around Rhinos… You go right ahead. They’re lazy cows, until they want to move.

        You’re entirely glossing over the training issues I mentioned – and replacing it instead with practices team tactics.

        • Giolli Joker

          “They’re lazy cows, until…” they become fast, hypertrophic, armored bulls.
          I’ve seen on a NatGeo a Rhino literally lifting from the ground a Cape buffalo by hitting it on the chest with its horn… the buffalo died after a few hours of agony.
          And the buffalo is already a very dangerous SOB…

          • JumpIf NotZero

            And the buffalo is already a very dangerous SOB… Ultra dangerous, and way more aggressive. One of the guides was talking about how he walked through a bush and into herd once – he was certain he shouldn’t still be alive. Said after that, anytime he was walking anywhere and saw birds pop up (the ox pickers get scared easily and let you know where buffalos might be) he stopped was proceeded extra carefully. Apparently when the Buffalo gets the idea you are a threat, the entire herd WILL NOT quit until you’re well dead.

          • Giolli Joker

            What’s amazing about Africa is how everything is relative… the buffalo killed by a rhino picked up a fight it couldn’t win, and there’s photographic footage of a buffalo bothering a mother elephant, to end up impaled on one of her tusks.
            (I visited Masai Mara a couple of years ago, unforgettable experience)

        • roguetechie

          Well, yeah tactics and training are always going to play into employment of any weapons system. And actually, I was counting on the rhinos playing merry hell with the poachers to help break them up into bite size packets that can be gathered up at the ranger’s leisure.

          Personally, I didn’t see the tactics as all that complex. Literally myself and a few buddies could run this play all day. I’m not prior service, nor are most of my friends but even we know that you can’t outrun the radio.

  • Jwedel1231

    They don’t need to better equip the men, they need more men. They ought to hire PMCs or other, similarly-skilled veterans to go over and reducing the poaching population.

  • One_Jackal

    Fix the title so we can share the article.

  • Bill

    People have to idea of the depth, breadth and losses involved in wildlife crime worldwide. Even if you disregard the ecological aspect, the money involved is astronomical. There are organized crime rings in the States who’ve figured out that they can make more dough in wildlife crime than drugs, with fewer risks.

    I was fortunate enough to get to train with conservation officers in South America and the Mid-East. Natural resource crimes are a lot like crimes against kids, they aren’t as visible as things like drugs and terrorism.

  • UniontownOne

    Non-lethal? They’re missing an opportunity….

  • disqus_PDmXLtTxJj

    Now if only we could legalize killing poachers here in the states.

  • Anon. E Maus

    I think a volley of six 40x46mm teargas rounds would do a rather suitable job of smoking out a group of poachers. I’m all for this.

  • Ranger Rick

    Kill that poacher scum.