'Doing what I can before it's too late': Irish wildlife champion killed in ambush

Conservationist Rory Young was among a group of foreigners abducted and when a special wildlife unit was ambushed in Burkina Faso on Monday morning
'Doing what I can before it's too late': Irish wildlife champion killed in ambush

Mr Young was the co-founder and president of the Chengeta Wildlife group

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has paid tribute to an Irish citizen killed in Burkina Faso on Tuesday, and "condemned in the strongest possible terms" the attack on his group.

Conservationist Rory Young was among a group of foreigners abducted when a special wildlife unit was ambushed in the African country on Monday morning.

The deaths of Mr Young and two Spanish citizens were confirmed on Tuesday.

Mr Young, who was born in Zambia, was the President of Chengeta Wildlife, an organization established to support anti-poaching efforts on the ground in Africa.

He "dedicated his life to wildlife protection," the website stated. 

It is understood Spanish journalist David Beriain, 44, and cameraman Roberto Fraile, 47, were working with Mr Young on a documentary about poachers when they came under attack.

A voice recording which purports to be from a jihadist organisation known as JNIM, which has links to al-Qaida, has claimed responsibility for the attack, The Associated Press has reported.

In a statement issued this morning, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, expressed his "sincere condolences to Rory Young’s family, and to the families of the two Spanish nationals who also lost their lives in this tragic incident." 

Rory Young dedicated his life to wildlife protection. Picture: Twitter
Rory Young dedicated his life to wildlife protection. Picture: Twitter

Mr Coveney said the Department of Foreign Affairs is in contact with the family of Mr. Young and continues to provide all possible consular assistance. 

He condemned 'in the strongest possible terms' the actions of those who are responsible for this attack. 

"We will continue to liaise with the authorities and partners on the ground on the matter," the Minister added.

A statement from the Burkina Faso Government stated that the bodies of the dead have not yet been recovered, but videos confirm the deaths.

The Chengeta Wildlife website described Rory Young as a pro guide, ranger, anti-poaching strategist/trainer and author.

According to his bio, he was "an expert tracker with amazing knowledge, skills and highly developed intuition to become one of the best in his field."

Mr Young dedicated his life to wildlife protection and he co-authored, A Field Manual For Anti-Poaching Activities, a guide that provides "workable solutions to poaching.”

"It is with deepest sorrow and regret that Chengeta Wildlife confirms the death of Rory Young, our co-founder and CEO," said Chengeta Wildlife in a statement.

"Rory was leading a wildlife protection patrol in Arly National Park, Burkina Faso on 26th April 2021 when they were attacked by terrorists which resulted in his death and that of two Spanish journalists who were capturing his efforts to protect precious wildlife.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased right now. We respectfully request your patience, time and understanding as we deal with the loss of our inspirational leader."

In his own Twitter bio, Mr Young described himself as "Doing what I can before it is too late."

"Do what you can too."

- Additional Reporting: PA

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