Putney soldier, Lance Corporal Dermot Kavanagh, 28, drew upon the skills he has learned in the British Army Reserve when he joined a hi-tech operation as a volunteer to track rhino poachers in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. A member of the Royal Yeomanry, Royal Armoured Corps, Dermot’s ‘day job’ is as a fitness instructor and personal trainer with British Military Fitness (BMF).

Dermot became passionate about Africa’s wildlife after a stay at luxurious Tanda Tula Safari Camp in the Timbavati Game Reserve on the edge of the Kruger Park.  On his return, he scoured the web for information on how to get involved in fighting the scourge of poaching and found Veterans for Wildlife.

Dermot said he was saddened by the prospect of his seven-year-old son growing up in a world without rhinos. Preventing this possible future has been a key motivating factor for him and Dermot has a number of follow-on awareness and fundraising activities planned back in the UK.

On a personal level, Dermot hoped that the additional skills he gained whilst deployed on this critical surveillance support role in Africa with Veterans for Wildlife will be transferred to both his military and civilian careers. Indeed, the opportunity to work alongside teams from such a markedly different background to his own has been one of the highlights of Dermot's deployment.

I have always been concerned about what is happening in Africa, but after seeing these animals with my own eyes in their natural environment, I was determined to use the skills I have gained in the Armed Forces to help. What is happening in Africa is nothing short of horrific. The rangers and everyone else involved in the war against poaching do an amazing job and deserve all the support they can get.