In an unfortunate turn of events, Kinessa Johnson, the famed “Badass Poacher Hunting Chick,” was just kicked out of Tanzania along with the rest of VETPAW.
While the exact circumstances surrounding their expulsion from Tanzania are unclear, it appears as though the members of Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife (VETPAW) were a victim of their own successful publicity campaign. Apparently, the Tanzanian government did not judge that the anti-poaching efforts of the group outweighed the significant controversy that surrounded them.
Kinessa Johnson, the famous “Badass Poacher Hunting Chick,” was at the center of the firestorm after photos of her, along with an interview where she said that VETPAW was in Tanzania to “kill some bad guys” went viral and generated a great deal of controversy in the USA and around the world. Additional problems surfaced among accusations that another team member, Special Forces medic Azad Ebrahimzadeh, was using illegal drugs physically abusing his ex-girlfriend.
As more information on VETPAW became available, it became apparent that the group was only authorized to be training Tanzanian park rangers, not engaging in combat with poachers. Additionally, the “Badass Poacher Hunting Chick” turned out to be a former soldier in the US Army who served one tour with the Army in Afghanistan as a diesel mechanic, a noble and necessary job for sure, but a far cry from the special forces operator that she was portrayed as.
Johnson later tried to set the record straight about her true job in Tanzania by saying the following in an interview in April 2015:
I’m a technical adviser to anti-poaching rangers, so I patrol routinely with them and also assist in intelligence operations. Most of the time anyone that is in a reserve with a weapon is considered a threat and can be shot if rangers feel threatened. Our goal is to prevent trigger pulling through strategic movements and methods of prevention.
Unfortunately, the damage had already been done. Their intentions were good and they genuinely were trying to help protect African wildlife from poachers. In reality, it seems like that they actually accomplished very little and may have actually done more harm than good to the anti-poaching organizations already in place in Africa.
Rumor has it that Johnson and the rest of VETPAW left Tanzania prior to May 5, 2015. However, VETPAW has not made any public statements to either confirm or deny the reports that the group was kicked out of Tanzania.