Illegal charcoaling has been identified as one of the main threats to the ongoing rehabilitation of Banhine National Park. These commercial operations result in the deforestation of the park and destabilisation of the ecosystem. A large focus of the counter-poaching operations within this 700 000 ha protected area is aimed at identifying and halting illegal charcoaling activity.

As dawn breaks in Banhine National Park, Peace Parks Foundation’s Helicopter Pilot, Calvin Goosen, takes off on a mission to locate illegal charcoaling camps.

Illegal charcoaling refers to the felling of trees and woodlands in protected areas. Once these camps are identified, the coordinates are radioed to the counter-poaching team on the ground, whose job is to apprehend any illegal loggers and remove equipment found within the camps.

It was not long until the team spotted an active illegal charcoaling camp within the park, and the rangers moved in. Here, they find numerous bags of charcoal and logging equipment. In an area as large as Banhine National Park, successfully locating these illegal camps from the air is a major feat, and hopefully this has resulted in saving many more of Banhine’s indigenous trees. As seen in the video, 23 bags of charcoal were produced by cutting down numerous trees that will no longer be able to provide oxygen for life on earth and a haven for wildlife.

As the demand for charcoal to be used as a source of fuel for cooking increases, illegal logging in protected areas is a major growing concern, leading to deforestation and environmental degradation. It has a devastating impact on the remaining forests in protected areas, which not only affects the wildlife that are dependent on these trees but also results in increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Peace Parks Foundation and partners is committed to creating alternative solutions to support these communities, their livelihoods and the environment that they live in by means of providing alternative sources of income and environmental education.