My short bio: Female Afghanistan veteran and current anti-poaching advisor ("poacher hunter")

My Proof:

Comments: 3429 • Responses: 63  • Date: 

goodchoice441531 karma

Hey Kinessa, thanks for doing this AMA.

I'm an 8-year US Army veteran that's interesting in finding a job and this seems right up my alley. There's just one problem: I never did anything on the ground (like Infantry or cav scout) or swoopy (like SF). I'm just a UH-60 crew chief with a lot of combat and flight instructor experience. Got any helicopters over there that need a little crewing? If so, any room for a guy like me in an organization like yours?

KinessaVETPAW1601 karma

We're trying to get a Huey. Stay in touch!

EighthEmperor1379 karma

What made you want to become an anti-poaching advisor?

KinessaVETPAW2892 karma

I heard VETPAW was looking for someone to train female rangers and I couldn't think of a better thing to do than to protect elephants and rhinos.

cr42922 karma

Since you've managed to acutely acquire the attention of people who otherwise probably wouldn't hear about poaching and other issues you're working to combat...

What do you want us, the average person living around the world, to know about the work you're doing?
Why is it important to you?
What can we, the average person, do to help combat poaching?

KinessaVETPAW954 karma

I truly believe that direct action and enforcement in Africa is priority if we want to save the wildlife from extinction. Many NGOs, governments and people blame China and direct both attention and funding there, but if we want to save wildlife then we need to focus on direct protection. Changing a culture in Asia is a tough task...

Spreading the word about direct action anti-poaching organizations like VETPAW, IAPF and PAMS Foundation are key.

disloyalbureaucrat884 karma

How many marriage proposals have you received today?

KinessaVETPAW1531 karma

I lost count.

dolcekitten857 karma

What is the coolest thing you've seen in Tanzania? How's the food??

KinessaVETPAW1251 karma

Ngorongoro Crater is insane. Food - living off the land.

jmoney-805 karma

  1. What do you think is the best way to combat poaching in Africa and China?
  2. What does a typical operation look like?
  3. Have you or a team you've worked with actually killed any poachers or is your goal to only ever scare them away from poaching?
  4. You're gorgeous

KinessaVETPAW979 karma

  1. Enforcement first, educating Africans second then educating, and enforcing policy in China should be third. Enforcement needs to be the priority or we'll lose the wildlife.
  2. Changes daily
  3. We don't operate with the intent to kill anyone.
  4. TY

WasabiStorm793 karma

I'm a filmmaker and would love to do some video/documentary work for VETPAW. Who should I contact/where do I start?

KinessaVETPAW1041 karma

Working with Animal Planet right now. Hit up our Communications Director Erika and maybe we can collaborate after May.

dolcekitten277 karma

Animal planet?? Can I watch what you guys are doing on TV?

10479561 karma

Hopefully it doesn't end up like a Whale Wars shit-show that has 5 minutes of content stretched into an hour.

KinessaVETPAW868 karma

I promise it won't :)

WasabiStorm117 karma

Already contacted them via the website. Was wondering if there was a more direct way? Those "Contact" sections are basically a shot in the dark depending on the organization.

SlowkidFTW691 karma

What's it like being such a badass?

KinessaVETPAW1927 karma

Pissing excellence in the morning is tough. I kid.



Oh yeah? Well pissing mediocrity in the morning is...okay, I guess.

KinessaVETPAW670 karma

I see what you did there!

cr42172 karma

Follow-up question: how did you hear about the post, since you just made your account? Was it one friend/family member who saw it and contacted you, or did a bunch of people?

Did someone call you up and casually give you the ol' "you're all over the internet, you should go check it out"?

KinessaVETPAW363 karma

I had family and friends reach out. I actually wasn't familiar with reddit so getting started was quite the unforeseen challenge...

botbegone682 karma

What are the rules of engagement with regard to poachers?

KinessaVETPAW766 karma

Depends by country.

latarian1074 karma

Since this is your first AMA, and you are going solo, it often helps an AMA be a hit if you give a small example off the top of your head I.E. "In X for example we have to do XYZ" That way you don't get a laundry list of people saying what about whatever countries.

People are interested in the details of your work, since it's likely something they have no experience with, so while it can be a lot of stuff to respond to don't worry about drowning us with detail if you have the time.

Appreciate the AMA! looking forward to reading the rest.

lessdothisshit431 karma

With the brevity of her posts, she really come off as someone that's not to be fucked with.

Or maybe I just think that 'cuz of the tattoos and huge rifle.

KinessaVETPAW1045 karma

It's 3AM here and I wasn't expecting this after a long day. Sorry for the brevity and lack of responses!

AmIKrumpingNow29 karma

Laws differ by country, huh. Insightful.

KinessaVETPAW4 karma

We work in more than one country. Many countries in Africa have a shoot to kill policy in parks since firearms are strictly prohibited.

IseeNekidPeople628 karma

Overall what is your favorite firearm?

KinessaVETPAW1115 karma

Glock 19 Gen 4

hipstermania603 karma

What did you do in Afghanistan?

KinessaVETPAW920 karma

diesel mechanic

ThatUnoriginalGuy515 karma

What's the craziest thing you've ever seen during your "advising"?

KinessaVETPAW734 karma

A lion kill.

dolcekitten328 karma

Like... A lion kill someone?

KinessaVETPAW840 karma

Haha no it nailed buffalo. It's pretty surreal to see a lion taking down a beast of an animal with ease.

Mason-B469 karma

What do you think about the regulations preventing women from pursuing combat positions in the Army (and military in general)? If such regulations didn't exist and assuming you had had the aptitude and opportunity would you have pursued such a position within the Army?

Edit: To be clear to people seeing this question the regulations I was referring to are the ones which create the restrictions seen on this page.

KinessaVETPAW1527 karma

There's woman who can perform in combat positions and women who cannot just like there are men who can and men who can't. Woman have been serving along side SOF units for years but you just don't hear about it. Now that they're letting women into combat MOS it seems like such a big deal. Let them earn it just like a man.

electriceric364 karma

As a Vet who just got out and feeling a bit directionless how did you come about getting involved in Anti poaching?

How long are you in a op area? ain country?

KinessaVETPAW479 karma

Thanks for your service and I totally understand how you feel. You just have to find something you're interested in and go after it. Anti-poaching may sound fun but there's a lot more that goes on than just going and hunting down poachers. If it's something you want to do you can go put in your resume.

It all depends but a few months is the typical rotation. I'll be here as much as my team allows me to be.

dx3320 karma

Kinessa, I just have to ask. In that photo of you making its way around r/pics right now, why did you choose to go with a 300 Win Mag instead of something more common and recoil friendly like a .308 Win?

KinessaVETPAW518 karma

Because it was a new product that I was testing.

franran296 karma

What's your thoughts on all these people at home second guessing what you do?

KinessaVETPAW793 karma

I know what I do and that's all that matters. You'll always have haters...

InfamousMyzt282 karma

Thanks for doing this, Kinessa.

Are there any specific interesting or hilarious stories that come to mind involving your time in Africa?

What kind of gear do you take with you on a normal day?

Also, what can redditors do to contribute or help you and VETPAW?

KinessaVETPAW420 karma

Everyday is interesting with Philip (Drama Llama Hunter).

Depends on the mission environment. Basic plate carrier and rifle is typical.

We're a non-profit organization so donating is the best way to help but spreading the word through social media is great too!

walkclothed352 karma

Who the fuck is Philip

KinessaVETPAW205 karma

one of my teammates , and he was a Air Force PJ

NeuroticWombat230 karma

Of the poachers you've met, what are these people generally like? Are they conflicted with the effects of what they do or are they totally lacking in concern?

KinessaVETPAW491 karma

Real straight shooters and love to hug... I kid. For the most part they seem to not care.

ZineZ212 karma


Thank you so much for doing this. Can you describe what exactly VETPAW does for those of us who don't know much? Also what's the size of the operation etc?

Also, you're amazing for your work. Thank you so much and link us a place to donate if you want!

KinessaVETPAW234 karma

Thanks for the support! We train rangers in garrison and on the job.

Cyphara198 karma

What's your daily routine as far as your job goes? I was unaware that there were "poacher hunters"

KinessaVETPAW403 karma

My job title is not "poacher hunter." I'm a technical advisor to anti-poaching rangers so I patrol routinely with them and also assist in intelligence operations.

Malrak186 karma

What do you think of red dots on handguns?

KinessaVETPAW439 karma

pointless unless you're comp shooting.

The_J3P183 karma

What are your daily assignments? Are you guys tipped off to poachers in certain areas, or is it like you say, an actual hunt for them? I'd be interested to know what it is you look for when searching for illegal activity.

KinessaVETPAW258 karma

Intel is everything

Millhouse96157 karma

How much military experience do you have?

KinessaVETPAW251 karma

4 1/2 yrs

futuregunsmith142 karma

What does typical day look like fighting poachers?

How effective do you think you and the rest of your team are?

KinessaVETPAW228 karma

Training rangers is routine but operations depend on intel so everyday is different. My team is fricken awesome.

LouieKablooie128 karma

When you save an animal from harms way are you able to identify a sentiment of gratitude?

Also are the poachers aware of the terrible acts they are committing but choose to do so for self preservation i.e. feeding their family?

Also your butt just got reddit famous.

KinessaVETPAW270 karma

Animals definitely know the difference between rangers and poachers.


joahfx123 karma

What made you pursue this career path?
Similarly, how do you get to where you are?

KinessaVETPAW566 karma

I like animals.

I flew KLM.

ntdfbladez117 karma

In regards to wildlife, whats the most tense situation you have ever been in? e.g., charging rhinos and what not.

KinessaVETPAW397 karma

I got caught between two unhappy lionesses today.

fetusy115 karma

First off, from one vet to another I have the deepest respect for what you're doing over there. Thank you. Secondly, are you seeing much of an impact on poaching? I read that you generally see a downturn in poaching in areas you guys are actively patrolling, but how about overall? Are we winning battles but not the war? Thanks for the AMA and all that you and your organization do.

KinessaVETPAW140 karma

Thank you for the kind words and likewise!

It's true that you can see a downturn in poaching when our presence is known and that's why we have to be strategic. Intel plays a huge role in what we do.

ahandsomeman109 karma

What was the scariest situation you ever encountered?

KinessaVETPAW414 karma


diltodado108 karma

first thank you for doing this AMA. i have two questions.

1.How did you get involved with VETPAW? 2.Since joining VETPAW have you been in any life or death situations?

KinessaVETPAW190 karma

They were searching for a female to train female park rangers so I applied and was selected. Everyday is a risk since criminal syndicates know we're here.

samurism89 karma

How badly have you been injured before?

KinessaVETPAW184 karma

Broken back

bcramer051582 karma

Obviously these poachers are quite a dangerous lot. Are they equipped with comparable weapons? Are they insidious enough to plant mines or crude bombs? How devious is your enemy?

KinessaVETPAW186 karma

Haven't run into IEDs but they do have night vision capabilities/IR and they have been known to use grenades. They use 458s so they're no joke!

admdelta79 karma

Are you familiar with Air Shepherd, and if so is there any potential for working with them in the future?

For those unaware, this is Air Shepherd. They use drones in anti-poaching operations and collaborate with local wildlife rangers.

KinessaVETPAW113 karma

I am aware of Air Shephard. We work with Viking UAS.

ClassicCarLife77 karma

Thank you for doing what you do! Does being one of the poster children for anti-poaching make it so your job is different than your co-workers? Also, How do you think the average non military trained person around the world can help the Rhinos?

KinessaVETPAW107 karma

I use my platform to help the team and VETPAW (non-profit org). No different at all, we all have our priorities.

Find something you're good at and think of a way you can benefit an organization assisting to protect and conserve wildlife.

ophelia_jones73 karma

Hi Kinessa! Two questions:

Favorite endangered/threatened animal?

What's the one story that you would like to tell to help people understand how important your work is to wildlife conservation?

KinessaVETPAW157 karma

Elephants are bad ass!

Imagine one of your communities most cherished assets disappearing forever. It impacts everything.

Lokitusaborg67 karma

If you weren't in the military or a poaching deterrent, what would you be? Have you always sought out risk?

KinessaVETPAW147 karma

Marine Biologist

ratguy62 karma

What's the meaning of the symbol on your shirt in the picture on /r/pics?

Edit: why was this question controversial? I was curious and didn't see this question answered in the other thread.

KinessaVETPAW44 karma

Sterling Customs

puffdamgcdrgn44 karma

What is the biggest problem concerning poaching right now?

KinessaVETPAW92 karma

  1. Enforcement 2. Educating locals

tokenation41 karma

When I think about anti-poaching I think of Richard Leaky as director of WMCD (Wildlife Conservation and Management Department) in Kenya back in 1989. What do you think has improved since then in this field, what still needs work?

KinessaVETPAW66 karma

We need more Richard Leakys in Africa!

AtoZZZ35 karma

Have you talked to any poachers? Do they give any reasoning (besides greed) for their actions?

KinessaVETPAW86 karma

Many of them are uneducated and greedy with no genuine care for the well-being of their community, but some are just trying to get funding to provide for their families. It's tough but I try not to generalize poachers.

sunbeam6031 karma

How does VETPAW decide where to go? Are you guys hired by the existing Rangers or do you seek them out?

Thanks for the AMA.

KinessaVETPAW59 karma

Our executive team decides after input from our operations team. We're a non-profit organization and we don't take money from rangers or host governments.

Mother-Dick26 karma

What's your favourite animal?

KinessaVETPAW62 karma


MeanieBeano25 karma

How sophisticated is the technology used by poachers? Does anything that they use rival anything that you guys use? Also, what do you bring on the job every day as a necessity? Thanks for doing this very unique AMA!

KinessaVETPAW49 karma

They seem to get night vision pretty easily. We adhere to U.S. regs so it's pretty difficult to get the things we need sometimes.

BenvolioMontague25 karma

A few questions.

1) What exactly is VETPAW as a company? As in are you considered a NGO or a PMC/PSC or something else?

2) What are the requirements for joining? I'm assuming at least a few years in with at least one deployment.

3) Who hires VETPAW? Whatever local government that wants your service?

Thanks for your time.

KinessaVETPAW55 karma

1) NGO/NPO 2) Post 9/11 veteran with honorable service and the skills VETPAW is currently seeking at the time of your application submission. 3) Nobody hires us. We're a non-profit and work under invitation of the host country. We don't take funds from African nations.

MagicBulletPoint16 karma

Thank you for your service in both Afghanistan and as an advisor. What opportunities are there to help with anti-poaching other than your current role? My wife and I are interested in helping out somehow.

KinessaVETPAW30 karma

Donating (monetary or equipment) is key for us since we're a non-profit Awareness for the organization is of course also key. You can also email our Communications Director at [email protected] if you have specific ideas. We really appreciate your interest in helping!

LuisButthole9 karma

How did you get involved with VETPAW? Did they come to you or did you go to them?

KinessaVETPAW15 karma

I submitted my information and they contacted me.

fantalemon8 karma

What can everyday people do to help stop poaching? Obviously we all hear about it and many of us want to help but can't actually go and be poacher hunters ourselves. How can I help fight poaching when it happens under the control of governments that aren't my own, in parts of the world I've never ever visited?

KinessaVETPAW20 karma

We operate at the invitation and permission of the host country, which is something that many NGOs don't do. Supporting direct action organizations is the way to go.

high_side7 karma

Does your organization target just the poachers themselves or do you have the authority to investigate up their chain of command, i.e. 'flip' the hired guns?

KinessaVETPAW13 karma

We go after anyone that goes after wildlife.

this420guy5 karma

Do you have a Instagram or anything of the nature for your badassery? How did you land such a kick ass job?

KinessaVETPAW9 karma


finndogg5 karma

Thanks so much for doing this --question: what is your favorite or most memorable animal encounter you've had while in Africa?

KinessaVETPAW9 karma

Seeing an elephant in the wild for the first time was amazing. I truly wish everyone had the opportunity.

Philly_Eagles4 karma

How often are you actually on duty as a "poacher hunter" in terms of days, I'm presuming it's 'x' days on 'y' days off?

P.S - Crushin' hard on your badass gun picture

KinessaVETPAW6 karma

Poachers work seven days a week and so does my team.

kyleaisho1 karma

Have you killed anyone while on anti poacher duty? Have you ever been in a situation while on duty where a situation escalated dangerously?

high_side26 karma

C'mon man, you've never heard an exasperated vet say that the first thing people ask them is if they've ever killed anyone?

She's sharing a cool story with us and doing PR for a good cause, don't ask shit questions.

KinessaVETPAW15 karma

Thanks for the support!

KinessaVETPAW11 karma