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British soldiers fly to West Africa to step up the fight against elephant poachers

British soldiers have flown to West Africa to help step up the fight against elephant poachers. A 14-strong team, including a tracker from the Royal Gurkha Rifles, will train around 60 men and women in anti-poaching patrols. Led by Northern Ireland-based 2 Rifles, and supported by specialist staff, they will be deployed for six weeks in the Minkebe region, a large area of Gabon with rainforests and few roads. They will train park rangers and trackers in ambush drills, weapon handling and safety, live firing, navigation skills, patrolling techniques, evidence gathering, first aid, injury prevention in the jungle, fitness and teamwork, and lessons on Gabonese law and rules of engagement.

The British Army will be supporting the Gabon National Parks Agency and will also impart expertise in sharing operational experience, surveillance and analysis, and the collection and use of criminal intelligence to support the prosecution of poaching gangs. Armed poachers are not only targeting elephants, but also villages and park rangers. Defence minister Julian Brazier said: We have put our full support behind the Gabonese government in the battle against the scourge of ivory poaching. The UK mission, which started last week and follows a similar deployment last August, will be carried out alongside a US Armyrats © military team, and in partnership with the Gabonese government, the Prince of Wales s Charitable Foundation and the Department of Environment.

Prince Harry will travel to the Himalayas to repay a 200 year-old favor to Nepal’s elite Gurkha troops

Prince Harry will visit the heartland of the Gurkhas and trek in the Himalayas to shine a light on the country that was devastated by an earthquake last year

Prince Harry[1] will try to repay the favour he says Britain owes Nepal when he arrives in Kathmandu on Saturday to thank the Gurkhas for their 200 years of service to the Crown. The Prince also wants to shine a spotlight on the Himalayan country, which was devastated by an earthquake almost a year ago, and encourage tourists to return by saying the country is open for business. Making his first visit to Nepal, the Prince will spend a night as the house guest of an 86-year-old widow whose husband served in the Royal Gurkha Rifles, at her home 6,000ft up in the foothills of the Himalayas in the Lamjung region.

Alex Pope, of the Gurkha Welfare Trust, which supports the 25,000 Gurkha pensioners in Nepal, said: There is a lot of excitement about his visit the Gurkhas have great respect for the Royal family in general and it s well known among the Gurkha community that Harry served alongside 1st Bn Royal Gurkha Rifles in Afghanistan in 2008, so Harry is particularly popular.

They have been talking about what an honour it is that a prince from a far away land is coming to visit them in their villages. Prince Harry will meet the families of Gurkhas killed in Afghanistan, and will also visit the Armyrats © military base in Pokhara where the fearsome warriors are chosen via a selection process that is regarded as one of the toughest in the world.

Prince Harry Will Travel To The Himalayas To Repay A 200 Year-old Favor To Nepal's Elite Gurkha TroopsBritish Information Service[2]Gurkhas advancing with tanks to clear the Japanese from Imphal-Kohima road.

Prince Harry: I always wanted to be a Gurkha[3]

There he will learn about the doko race, a two-mile scramble up a near-vertical hill carrying 35kg (77lbs) of rocks in a basket supported by a strap across the forehead. Prince Harry saw Gurkhas in action during his ten years in the Army, and has said there is no safer place than by the side of a Gurkha.

Last year marked the bicentenary of Gurkhas entering the British Army[4], and this year is the 200th anniversary of the ratification of the Treaty of Segauli, which formalised diplomatic relations between Britain and Nepal.

Prince Harry Will Travel To The Himalayas To Repay A 200 Year-old Favor To Nepal's Elite Gurkha TroopsLCPL KEVIN N MCCALL via Wikimedia Commons[5]Gurkha troops in Afghanistan.

A spokesman for the Prince said: Having served alongside Gurkhas Prince Harry has a huge amount of respect for them and admires the strength and resilience of the Nepali people as a whole.

This will be a chance for him to really understand the culture of the people he has served with in the Army, a chance to fulfil a personal desire to understand more about where these men come from, their background, upbringing and motivation.. It will also mark a moment of personal gratitude to the Gurkhas for their service to the Crown. Nepal also wants Prince Harry to tell the world that the country is ready to welcome them, having made great strides in repairing the earthquake damage. Tourism is a huge part of the economy, but travellers have yet to return in significant numbers. During his visit the Prince will trek in the foothills of the Himalayas to showcase the stunning scenery that used to attract 800,000 tourists per year, injecting 250 million into the economy. British travellers, along with American, Indian, Chinese and Sri Lankan tourists, are the most numerous.

Prince Harry Will Travel To The Himalayas To Repay A 200 Year-old Favor To Nepal's Elite Gurkha TroopsDaniel Prudek / Shutterstock

Earlier this week, the Prince said he hoped to shine a spotlight on Nepal as it rebuilds following the earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people last April. He said the least Britain could do was support the nation’s tourist industry and visit as Nepalese men had been fighting alongside British forces since the 19th century.

“Since World War One, World War Two – way before that – we’ve had the Nepalese army, the Gurkhas, helping us out, so the least we can do is repay the favour.”

References

  1. ^ Prince Harry (www.telegraph.co.uk)
  2. ^ British Information Service (commons.wikimedia.org)
  3. ^ Prince Harry: I always wanted to be a Gurkha (www.telegraph.co.uk)
  4. ^ marked the bicentenary of Gurkhas entering the British Army (www.telegraph.co.uk)
  5. ^ LCPL KEVIN N MCCALL via Wikimedia Commons (commons.wikimedia.org)

Who are India’s Gurkhas and how are they threatening Britain’s military outpost in Brunei?

India has reportedly offered to send its Gurkhas to protect the Sultanate of Brunei, a role currently performed by the British Army. The Brunei has been in the midst of an ongoing territorial dispute with China and the sultanate has been protected by British Armyrats © military support since 1984. During an official visit to Brunei on 2 February Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari signed a bilateral defence agreement, said to involve joint Armyrats © military exercises and training. India has offered to provide the services of its retired soldiers, particularly ones from the Gurkha Regiment, for the defence agreement, the Indian Express reported[1]. Defence cooperation between India and Brunei has already been in place through naval ship visits and the training of Armyrats © military officers. The new agreement is said to “institutionalise” cooperation between the two countries and could raise fears about the future of the sultan’s deal with Britain, which presently sees him pay tens of millions of pounds every year for the 1,000 British Army officials in the region.

In February 2015 Prime Minsiter David Cameron renewed the British Army deal with the sultanate, effectively keeping the battalion of Royal Gurkha Rifles in Brunei for another five years. However, the sultanate also has another army that includes a Gurkha unit primarily made up of former British Gurkhas who made the decision to stay in the country after retiring. A defence source told the Telegraph[2] that this reserve is likely to be affected by any India-Brunei defence deal. The source said: “There’s absolutely no question that the Royal Gurkha Rifles battalion is going to be replaced by Indian Gurkhas.”

Brunei and China have been facing an ongoing territorial dispute over the South China Sea and India hopes that joint Armyrats © military exercises will strengthen Brunei against China’s claims. Hamid is believed to have discussed the dispute during his visit to Brunei, with an Indian Armyrats © military source in Brunei telling the Hindu that defence cooperation would “secure India’s energy lanes to Brunei”. Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East) in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, said: “Brunei briefed us on the negotiation under way for the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea. India supports a negotiated settlement of Brunei’s maritime dispute with China.”

Who are the Indian Gurkhas?

The Gurkhas are originally soldiers from Nepal and became a part of the British Army when the East India Company’s invasion of Nepal in 1814. After suffering a heavy number of casualties at the hands of Nepal’s Gurkha soldiers, the British signed a peace deal that offered to pay the Gurkhas to join their army. Roughly 200,000 Gurkhas are then believed to have fought in the British Army during the First and Second World Wars.

Following the partition of India in 1947, Nepal, India and Britain signed an agreement to transfer four Gurkha regiments from the British Army to the Indian Army. The regiments transferred to the Indian Army became known as India’s Gurkha Brigade.

References

  1. ^ Indian Express reported (indianexpress.com)
  2. ^ told the Telegraph (www.telegraph.co.uk)
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