Left for Dead
His callsign is Tango 5, Tango for short. He’s an undercover investigator in one of the world’s most dangerous jobs – taking on the elephant and rhino poachers of Africa’s organized crime syndicates.
In early May, Tango was returning home after a successful undercover operation involving the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) and Zimbabwean agencies, which saw the arrest of two suspects involved with rhino poaching.
It was a Sunday evening. He was driving from Beitbridge to the capital Harare when he was forced off the road and assaulted. It’s alleged the assailants poured petrol over him and his car and set it alight while he was inside. He was blindfolded with his jacket and tied with his own shoelaces to the steering wheel.
The fire engulfed the car and the windows began to explode. Tango managed to get one hand free and then extricate himself from the burning car. That was not before suffering serious burns to his face, neck, arms, chest, and stomach – 30% of his body.
Tango in hospital.
Saved by a Good Samaritan
A good Samaritan stopped and took him to Beitbridge hospital, a remote border town in southern Zimbabwe. They could only offer primary care but they kept him alive overnight. The next morning he was evacuated by air to a private hospital where a medical team was on standby.
That’s where Tango is today. His whereabouts are a secret, and his room is being guarded by the investigation team to guarantee his survival.
Tango is 28 years old. His injuries – both physical and psychological - mean he is likely never to work as an undercover investigator again. Tango needs your help to recover and help IAPF bring his assailants to justice.
Stop the Poachers
Crime syndicates are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of elephants, rhinos, and other animals each year. Their business is worth a staggering US$20 billion dollars annually in illicit profits.
According to the IUCN, populations of African forest elephants have fallen by more than 86% over 31 years, while African savanna elephants have decreased by 60% over the last 50 years.
For some African rhinos, the situation is worse. In 1970 there were 70,000 black rhinos, but just 2,410 in 1995 – a dramatic decline of 96% over 20 years.
The poachers can be stopped. And Tango is one of the best at stopping them.
Tango will remain on full pay throughout his recovery. Your support will go to help support his children & family.
There is no victims of crime compensation payment system in Zimbabwe and the IAPF will be covering the ongoing costs and compensation with the help of donors.
Your Donations Will Be Used To:
- Pay Tango’s medical bills, including air evacuation to Harare
- Pay for his secure ‘high dependency ward of intensive care’ in a private hospital
- Pay for a specialist medical team including a burns specialist and trauma counseling.
- Legal bills as we support the authorities in their investigations
- Replace the vehicle lost in the fire
- Retrain Tango for another role within IAPF
- Retrain a new operator to replace Tango (a minimum of 12 months)
- Additional training and resources for all investigators
Our Target: US$79,000
We expect costs to rapidly reach a minimum of USD$100,000 and we have already raised $21,000 specifically for this. Target: $79,000
Beyond the immediate care of Tango, the relentless efforts of the IAPFs Special Investigations unit is having significant impact. If we exceed our target amount, those funds will be put towards continuing the work or those special investigations. This team works alongside and as part of Akashinga, the world’s only armed all-female teams of wildlife rangers, a plant-based project that protects much of Zimbabwe’s wildlife in the Zambezi Valley.
We will give donors the option to be kept regularly updated with Tango’s condition directly from IAPF.
More About The IAPF, Tango’s Organisation
The International Anti-Poaching Foundation is a USA-registered 501c(3) charity. IAPF has the Platinum Seal of approval from independent charity evaluator GuideStar. This is the highest level that GuideStar recognizes and less than 0.5% of non-profits in the USA earn it.
IAPF Founder and CEO Damien Mander said: “The IAPF takes the safety of its workers extremely seriously. Our team reacted quickly and efficiently in organizing the best possible medical support for this brave protector of wildlife and we are hopeful he will make a full recovery, although these are early days in his treatment.”
Mr Mander added: “This particular ranger has been one of our most fearless and committed wildlife crime fighters for a long time. The attack appears to be in retaliation for arrests made earlier on Sunday, involving suspected rhino poachers.”
The IAPF has been instrumental in fighting wildlife crime in Zimbabwe and surrounding regions since 2009. Since the beginning of 2020 alone, working alongside local authorities and communities, the foundation has been involved in the arrest of 292 suspects involved with wildlife crime offenses in Zimbabwe. These arrests have had a conviction rate of 89.2% according to their records.
A recent film made about the organization Tango works for.
For more information visit www.iapf.org
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