Animal ranger held hostage for trying to stop elephant poachers

Rohit Singh tried to go undercover with a poaching gang


Animal ranger held captive after trying to stop elephant poacher

Rohit Singh sat slumped in the corner of his locked cell, the hunger pains in his stomach throbbing in time with the bruises that covered his body.

He dreaded the sound of the key in the lock – that would mean yet another beating.

See also: Poachers kill two lions that were freed from circuses

See also: Horrifying new trend sees elephants slaughtered for their skin

He was to spend three days held hostage, his captors the poachers who slaughter elephants and other animals to make a quick buck.

Yesterday, the Mirror revealed elephants in Myanmar, where Rohit worked, could be pushed to the brink of extinction within two years because of a new Asian craze to turn their skin into beads – which traders claim have health benefits.

Some 20 elephants were found killed and skinned in one day alone in the war-torn country.

Credits: AFP

Elephants are being slaughtered to fuel sick skin trade

Credits: WWF

Doting ranger Rohit with a tiny cub

Terrifying new elephant poaching epidemic to meet demand for 'health' jewellery made from their skin

But while action groups and ­charities are trying to stop the poaching, rangers such as Rohit are facing an explosion of violence against them, as they try to tackle the criminals while surviving on as little as £1.50 a day from local authorities.

Rohit, 33, tells the Mirror how he was kidnapped after trying to go undercover with a poaching gang – but had his cover blown by a drunk colleague.

"A gang of them beat me up and locked me in a room for three days," he says. "Every so often, they would come back and attack me again, trying to beat information out of me." He was only saved because a back-up unit was on standby, waiting to raid the building if they did not hear from Rohit for 48 hours. They rescued him, seized the animal parts and arrested the poachers.

The dad-of-one says: "I was lucky. These ­situations can get very serious, very quickly." And with the boom in the sick elephant-skin trade, facing up to the poachers is only getting more dangerous.

Credits: Daily Mirror

Our story yesterday revealing how elephant skin is being hailed for its health benefits

Credits: Ola Jennersten

Rohit is speaking out to spread awareness of the dangers rangers face in the field

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Rohit said: "No elephants are safe now. We had an awful case a few weeks back where a female and her calf were killed and skinned. A sudden new demand like this poses a major threat to the survival of the species.

"A lot of poachers carry AK47s and other sophisticated weapons now. They won't hesitate to shoot rangers because... they don't want to go to jail." Rohit now trains other rangers and has worked across Asia in India, Cambodia and, of course, Myanmar.

He is also speaking out in Rangers on the Frontline, a programme for wildlife streaming channel Love Nature, to raise awareness of the threats faced by wildlife rangers across the continent.

It comes after a WWF survey showed three-quarters of rangers have been attacked or threatened, yet nearly half have no health insurance.

That means there is no money and no one to support their families if they are killed in action.

Rohit said: "Rangers and their families make huge sacrifices to save the planet because they care for the animals they protect and are proud to do it. We need to support them. It's a struggle... but there is hope."

Pictures of baby elephants

Pictures of baby elephants

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