AN IRISH conservation worker has been killed in Burkina Faso.
Father-of-two Rory Young has been named among a group of foreign visitors who were abducted and killed during an anti-poaching patrol. The special wildlife unit of around 40 people, including several military personnel, was ambushed by gunmen on Monday morning.
Spanish journalist David Beriáin, 44, and photographer Roberto Fraile, 47, were also killed during the attack.
Four convoy members were wounded in the ambush while one Burkina Faso national is still missing.
The jihadist group JNIM has claimed responsibility for the attack. In an audio recording the group, which has links to al-Qaida, said: “We killed three white people. We also got two vehicles with guns, and 12 motorcycles."
A statement from the Burkina Faso Government has stated that while the bodies of the dead have not yet been recovered, they have received videos confirming their deaths.
Born in Zambia to Irish parents, Young had dedicated his life to wildlife protection.
He was the President of Chengeta Wildlife, an organisation he established to support anti-poaching efforts in Africa.
In a statement responding to the news, Chengeta Wildlife said: “It is with deepest sorrow and regret that Chengeta Wildlife confirms the death of Rory Young, our co-founder and CEO.
“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.”
Described as an anti-poaching strategist and trainer on the charity’s website, Young’s work often saw him serve as a last line of defence between animals and poachers. A brave and powerful figure, he often engaged with terrorist groups in the region who were known to fund their activities using profits gained from wildlife crime.
Away from the field, Young also co-authored the respected guide A Field Manual For Anti- Poaching Activities. A dedicated and highly respected conservationist, Young is survived by his wife Marjet and two young children.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, has 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."
The Department of Foreign Affairs has been in contact with Young’s family and will continue to provide any and all consular assistance. Coveney condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the actions of those behind the attack.
"We will continue to liaise with the authorities and partners on the ground on the matter," he said.