Thanks everyone. Gotta call it a night (Generators are off and bugs keep flinging themselves at my screen at a high velocity). Hope some of you found this an interesting glimpse into our isolated life here. And thanks to everyone who donated.. every little bit counts and we've been blown away by the generosity! (Btw, Total Win X usage here... 17gb!)

Edit: Just a mass edit notice. This morning, now that my brain isn't fried.. I've gone thru a bunch of my comments to edit for spelling/grammar and also to add some information if I didn't fully answer

So.. I'm the guy that ranted about Windows 10 updates secretly downloading on our slow, expensive, satellite connection. I was just upset, and venting. However, since there were several requests for an AMA, and we are trying to fundraise after our ultralight airplane crashed (album below), we decided it could be cool to try.
To be honest, I have a good deal of experience as a bush pilot & IT guy in East Africa, as well as living in Antarctica and many other cool places.. but the staff here can speak with more experience about Anti-Poaching/wildlife protection and the creation of this project. So, if you guys are interested in this.. I'll do the typing, and they'll field your questions.

About Us:
We are a team of local Central African + foreign expat staff in the Chinko Reserve (bordering Congo & South Sudan) trying to save wildlife from the militarized rebel poachers. We train and deploy rangers to hunt down these smugglers who have killed the majority of game wildlife and attack the local villages. Using aircraft, we support the rangers from above. Though, with the recent accident, along with the constant threat of armed poachers and rebel groups like Kony's LRA child army.. we are up against it!!
Our founder first conceived the project in 2012 while he was falsely imprisoned for a massacre he discovered and tried to report! (Link below) In the last 30 years, poaching has driven the elephant population from 60,000 down to only a couple 100! However, In a very short time, Chinko has cleared a 3,000 sq/km "core protection zone" of all activity, & wildlife have seen significant rises. Now, we are trying to expand further into the reserve, which at 17,600 sq/km is almost as big as Kruger national park, and virtually untouched!
With the loss of our ULM, we started this campaign in the hopes to quickly get our operation back up to 100% . The few expats here have spent the majority of the last years in the bush & never tried a crowdfunding medium. I, while NOT a professional PR guy for this organization, have been an avid redditor for years. So I convinced the boss that this could be a possible venue for fundraising if people are interested. (Included proof below).
If you are interested, check out our campaign here: Indiegogo's Generosity Site.
... We're even giving bitcoin a try! 14bNP5krJeBPGT6xYWdfQYD4veNC9nLiib ..


Imgur albums & Links:




  • You can match the staff member on our main site's staff page to the listed creator the Indiegogo page
  • I'm in the album of chinko's accident as well as in the proof picture from yesterday and here's today as well
  • Lastly, the indiegogo page's Non-profit Tax ID can be linked to the Chinko Project

As you can imagine, even on a good day our internet & power are not great. if we're offline for a bit, know that I'll be frantically trying to fix the problem.. or hyenas invaded the camp and we're in a fierce man vs beast struggle for the dominant consumer of chickens in the area. Root for us, we're the good guys :) Thanks again for everything, and the amazing generosity we've received... bush life doesn't usually include much contact/attention from the outside world.. this has been interesting to say the least!


Comments: 1719 • Responses: 51  • Date: 

KunkmasterFlex1241 karma

Do you actually engage the poachers yourselves at anytime or leave it up to the rangers? Are the rangers local? And if you do engage with them what kind of firearms do you use (assuming that you do use them for at least defensive purposes).

BTW - great work that you are doing out there!

zambuka421387 karma

That is the job of the ranger, that is what they are trained for and they are all local from this region. When we have to engage, we have a variety of weaponry, some of it confiscated. However, we are never the FIRST to engage, and it is the last thing we want. We would prefer to arrest poachers and help the region join us in our conservation efforts. Thanks alot :)

Fudrucker370 karma

What laws or local customs do your rangers have to be aware of when engaging poachers? Are you only allowed to shoot defensively, or are there bounties for poachers allowing dead or alive confrontation?

zambuka42542 karma

We do abide by all local and national laws. We do everything by the book, if for no other reason than we depend on the support of the local population. As for engagement.. definitely defensively.
edit: adding to the answer.. as for what the laws are.. they are strict and sometimes obtuse, so we have to be careful. I personally don't know them all to tell, but for instance.. there is a law that says you can kill a trespasser's cow, but not TAKE the cow. That would be stealing...

Hobash841 karma


Did Microsoft do anything to try to make up for this? Did they contact you and offer aid or anything?

zambuka421375 karma

I haven't heard from Microsoft in an official capacity.. however I was contacted by an employee of theirs that understands and appreciates our plight and what we do. He was nice enough to escalate my post within their PR department, but with no promises obviously. We'll see if anything comes of it.

godagrasmannen669 karma

Where should I start looking for a job involving protecting animals in for example Africa ? I got two weeks left of my 1 year military training with 6 months of international peacekeeping education. I think that can be of use? Otherwise I have graduated 3 year gymnasium in Sweden.

zambuka42596 karma

This is a question we got a lot last time, so I'll make this answer the one that I link to in the future. Of course we could always use help. Just contact us through our main website (Http:// There is also a section to check for job openings.

Edit A coworker just told me a good place to go is

PJDubsen424 karma

What did the cost / mb come out to?

zambuka42743 karma

I asked our new administrator to check in to it yesterday, but unfortunately the contract is handled by African Parks in South Africa and they don't work over the weekend! I can tell you that bandwidth is very valuable to us.. hence why I was so livid when I realized how much may have been taken by these background downloads. Regardless of the cost.. the affect on our ability to use our internet was diminished.
Still haven't gotten an answer on the cost.. I kow we have a monthly budget for the bandwidth. After getting to all the pc's laptops.. the total bandwidth usage from background Windows 10 downloads was 17.4GB

lyndy650296 karma

What aircraft do you usually use for support operations?

zambuka42362 karma

Normally, we will fly 4-5 hours a day using the ULM. With this ultralight we can support our rangers with surveillance and supply them thru airdrops. The cessna 206h that we have remaining is more for longer flights. (Like to and from the nearby towns and capitol).

pilot_dave241 karma

I am a pilot as well, recently got my multi commercial and almost finished with my single commercial add on. So, how does a person go about getting a job flying in Africa working for wildlife conservation? It seems to me a far more worthwhile task than flying boxes for some small time part 135 operation and flying in Africa is a notion I've entertained in my mind a few times.

zambuka42251 karma

You know, I became a pilot with the sole intention of becoming a bush pilot. I left the US after I got my commercial and started traveling the world. I just put myself out there.. sought out local flying orgs, hung at airports, made connections in the towns. It wasn't until I found myself in a coffee shop in Tanzania that the owner gave me the contact info for a local flying medical service. I made a quick phone call, met them for dinner, joined them for a 3 day clinic with the Masai tribes.. and that was it. I joined up. Once I had the experience under my belt.. it was only a matter of finding organizations in need. There are several bush pilot facebook groups that are good for this.

Apophydie278 karma

How does the local culture respond to you being there? Do they understand the plight of the poachers? Is there a sense of local conservation?

zambuka42388 karma

The majority of the poachers actually come from outside of the Chinko reserve from other countries. In fact, there is little concern about local poaching because the nearest village is 100's of km's away. The conservation is a part of this project. We are trying to educate and help the local population in this regard.

expendablethoughts99 karma

Do they actually know what's happening? Do they know those species are endangered?

zambuka42208 karma

They don't know that they are endangered.. it's a food source. They have a hard time believing that it can run out! They think it is an unlimited supply of wildlife.

AmishCableGuy265 karma

How do you feel about ecotourism as a way to combat poaching?

zambuka42338 karma

Eco tourism is a pretty wide concept. We are focusing first on stabilizing the region and gaining enough control of the area to hopefully in the future turn this into a park for tourism to begin.

challenge4223 karma

Has /u/thisisbillgates donated to your cause yet?

zambuka42354 karma

Me and Bill haven't had a chance to speak yet :) if we did, I'd tell him I miss him at the helm of Microsoft. Also, having worked in East Africa in the medical field.. I would thank him for all he's done.

psylentz163 karma

Besides bandwidth, what is your biggest challenge doing IT for this organization?

zambuka42325 karma

I'm actually not the IT GUY!! I was supposed to be the pilot, however since the ULM aircraft had it's accident right as I arrived, I've tried to help where I can. As for the IT work.. it's been a lot of cleanup. There was a large storm before I arrived that ripped the roof of the control room's building right off.. taking most of the wiring and devices with it! It's taken a while, but I got them limping and then pretty much back in service.

JurijFedorov22 karma

Do you have any experience or training flying planes?

lapochka857 karma

I'd think he has to if he was the official pilot.

zambuka4275 karma

Actually I am not a CFI. I got my commercial certs and immediately left for Ecuador :)

dirk_frog137 karma

As the IT guy what is your list of ideal technology supplies/ solutions?


  • free highspeed internet
  • aerial drones with limited cargo capacity
  • better computers
  • animal tracking software/equipment

I suspect some people are going to volunteer assistance so why not get the list out there. Dream big, as you never know what people specialize in or have access too.

zambuka42206 karma

I'm asking the staff what their top 3 wishes would be...

  • Drones with UNLIMITED cargo capacity would be great (Care of our logistics guy).
  • Free internet would be a HUGE boon. But there isn't even a tower out here.. satellite is all we've got
  • As for animal tracking... a fleet of helicopters + fuel for 10 years.

:) To be honest, the technology available is always changing. So when we have funds available to supplement our stock we make those determinations through research at the time. It's another way of saying I don't have anything specific to ask for. Thanks though

jjmashd132 karma

So I've heard of ex war vets being hired as 'poacher poachers', getting paid to get around and blast apart people poaching animals. This would have been 2-3 decades ago. Was this industry practice then or now? Would you like to take an AK to someone you caught chopping off a rhino horn?

zambuka42219 karma

Actually, the last thing we want is a violent confrontation. We would prefer to arrest poachers, and try to convince invasive Sudanese herders to help us keep this park pristine.

InfuseDJ67 karma

how often do they want to come quietly?

zambuka42165 karma

We have had success in the past not only stopping poaching, but recruiting former poachers to help with the cause.. but there is a distinction between local poachers and outside rebels that come in to profit.

102091101121 karma

Did you know chinko is Willy in Japanese?

zambuka42173 karma

sigh Yes.

Arwell27119 karma

How are you liking Windows 10?

zambuka42239 karma

Classic shell and a healthy fear of updates. Not like my job here is stressful already.

CocoTheMan80 karma

Hi! Why do you use Windows instead of Ubuntu or another Linux based OS?

zambuka42164 karma

This is not a huge operation.. and it's scarcely 2 years old. This is the bush.. the real bush. You work with what you have available and what this staff has done, and created to this point is very impressive. It would be nice to have an IT staff that could design, build, and maintain such a system. I don't know where they got the machines.. but I assume donations with Windows already installed. The staff has larger concerns to focus on with the anti-poaching efforts and OS takes a backseat.

Somefive71 karma

In your photo album, the first image (of all the confiscated loot), there's a whole bunch of papers. What are they?

Also, what do you do with seized animal pelts?

zambuka4284 karma

That was actually medication for the Sudanese cattle to protect against local diseases. As for the pelts, we burn them.

ralpo0864 karma

Why did you decide to do what you are doing? What's your biggest goal? And biggest fear?

zambuka42138 karma

Most of the year, I actually work in Antarctica. But having been a bush pilot for many years, I still want to fly during the off-ice season. There are not many places you can go to do a short term contract for flying. This just worked out great.

ItsYaBoyChipsAhoy35 karma

How do you cope with the change in climate?

zambuka42103 karma

After a long stint in Antarctica.. Trees, greenery, animals, STARS & THE MOON are all amazing. It's nice.

kenundrem25 karma

Wait....Stars and the Moon aren't visible on Antarctica? Ever?

zambuka42122 karma

sorry.. should have qualified that I work in the summer... sunshine 24 hour a day

PlentyOfMoxie60 karma

What do you all do in your down-time?

zambuka42123 karma

Work :) no, really, when we can we have a projector to watch a movie on the wall. We have Sundays off and occasionally the staff would get to ride in the ULM for a pleasure flight/patrol to lend a hand and enjoy the park more. We need to get this back for our sanity!

barbedvelvet45 karma

What movies do you watch?

zambuka42153 karma

Our most recent flick was SAMURAI COP!! Also.. it's the only movie we have... on VHS.. with no rewinder.

RottenBioHazard55 karma

I do have a couple of questions:

  1. When it comes to poaching, where are the spoils of such actions end up, what i mean to say is where do the valuable parts of the animals ie elephant tusks end up, in whose hands?

  2. If from what i understand, this has always been an Asian thing, part of the chinese medicine nonsense. Is that the case, or is it far more reaching than that?

  3. What can we as a people do to in essence stem the tide of illegal poaching, i am aware of a few organizations trying to help, but of little else.

  4. What forms of technology are used in your practice to combat this? You mentioned of course computers, and planes, and a militant ground unit, but what else? Why not try and look at it as a social economic issue, and try and find a way to give the poachers a better option? That last bit i know is not up to you, but i could imagine it would help.

I can't think of anything else to ask at the moment, if i think of anything else after your reply i will try and ask.

Thank you for perhaps reading and answering this.

zambuka42100 karma

  1. Mainly, the best word would be ivory kingpins. Like the LRA (Kony's lord's resistance army), various rebel groups.. to fund their weapons and enterprises. It's important to note that we are not talking about local poachers who are trying to feed their families, but large rebel groups who kill animals as well as attacking local villages. Ultimately, the ivory trade is mainly focused in east Asian countries.

  2. That does seem to be the case. But Ivory is not for medicine (that's rhino horn). Ivory is more of a status item.

  3. Supporting by NOT buying items that result from poaching, as well as supporting through donations or volunteering with organizations dedicated to the fight.

  4. First to speak to the poacher's other options.. we have in the past managed to recruit former poachers to help, but as I mentioned before.. we are mainly up against smugglers... not locals trying to feed their family. The technology is mainly the ability to track and coordinate the rangers from our base as well as support them from the air. Basically, airplanes + radios + GPS

Deezl-Vegas50 karma

It seems like quadcopters with cameras could be very useful to you guys -- have you thought about investing in them? They're not terribly expensive.

zambuka4287 karma

The main concern is range and time. The Chinko reserve is 17,600 sq/km! The weather patterns and terrain would just make that unfeasible.

KTL17542 karma

What would you rather save from being poached? One horse sized duck or a hundred duck sized horses?

zambuka4291 karma

My ama dream is now complete.. i can answer this. The staff disagrees, but I'm going to say the horse sized duck. I will then lead the rangers myself atop this steed and scare the ever living shit out of the poachers.

fuck_hd42 karma

A week ago I asked in a different sub advice for someone looking to volunteer for charity organizations that can utilize my skill set. Do you have any advice for me? In a perfect world I would be helping more remote places get access to data and laptops, I just don't know where to start.

zambuka4249 karma

I'm sure I'll get this question alot, so I'm just permalinking to my previous answer:

neotek292 karma

Hey pal, sorry to reply to this comment in an off-topic way, but if I post this as a top-level comment, AutoModerator will remove it because it doesn't contain a question.

Your Indiegogo needs some serious work. Two donation tiers, $500 and $25,000, is an instant turnoff for 99.999% of people who will visit that page. The majority of people passing by won't realise they can donate any amount they like.

You have a great story and have the opportunity here to raise some serious money for your awesome work, but that Indiegogo page is ruining it for you. There's a bunch of basic psychology at work here, you need to provide tiers that reduce the friction of donation - something someone can look at and think to themselves, that's within my budget, that's something I can click right now which will make a difference. Take your cues from the thousands of other charities out there raising funds for their equally worth causes, and introduce the following tiers (for example):

$1 - thanks for the support, we'll send you email updates

$7 - pays for x minutes worth of fuel for the plane (or some other easily-relatable number)

$15 - pays for another easily-relatable number, like it covers the expenses of one local worker for a day, or whatever

$25, $50, $100, and $250, again with easily-relatable numbers.

Also, there are dozens of companies out there who do nothing more than help you pump the shit out of your crowd funding efforts in exchange for a percentage of the take (around 15% usually), and it's well worth engaging one of them. Every big charity in the world pays external sources to help them fundraise. If you've ever had someone wearing a badge knock on your door and talk to you about donating the Medecins sans Frontiers, that's a paid salesperson. If you've ever been stopped in a shopping mall by someone asking you to donate to Greenpeace, that's a paid salesperson. It's hugely effective and relatively inexpensive compared to the return.

It would be so incredibly easy to take a piece of instantly viral content like this and make it huge. If the internet can raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for people who lose their jobs or get bullied or want to sell some rebranded piece of shit from Alibaba, it can sure as hell do it for a charity that saves the lives of elephants.

Best of luck to you and the people you work with!

zambuka4288 karma

Wow, thansk for the great writeup. Unfortunately this is our first time trying crowdfunding. I'm trying to answer these questions right now, but edited the fundraiser to make sure people know they can donate any amount.

neotek122 karma

Please, for your own sake, take 5 minutes to add the extra tiers now in between answering questions. You don't even need to spend much time adding clever descriptions or figure out the numbers that I mentioned before, just at least add the tiers ($1, $7, $15, $25, $50, $100, and $250) with a couple of words to indicate how important your work is.

Strike while the iron is hot, this AMA will likely be seen by tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people who are primed with interest in your story, many of whom will be eager to donate to such a worthy cause.

zambuka4231 karma

Got it.. my brain is a bit fried.. but made some generic reasons for each level. I appreciate the info

doktor_the37 karma

Hey man, I had a wild idea the other day while building a quadcopter. The plan was to mount an FLIR camera onto it along with a regular camera -> map out my uncle's farmland. This will also be combined with IR data to show the irrigation levels of soil BUT I also wanted to use it to find critters and animals that roam into it at night. These things are really cheap to build but the FLIR camera is a bit costly.

So my thought was to use the FLIR camera to detect heat signatures at night and do a flyby in "interesting" areas -> classified by moving heat signatures, a bright spot with more than a defined radius etc. Since you basically do this with a airplane, how reliable are those cameras at night and from an altitude of say 500-800 meters? Have you used anything like this before?

p.s. How much latency do you get to Google from that satellite link?

zambuka4259 karma

We like the idea.. the only issues are how far we would need them to go.. The Chinko reserve is 17,600 sq/km! it's just not feasible for our operation. The weather patterns and terrain are also a big hinderence. The Americans are setup in a place not far called OBO tracking Kony's army. They have tried this very thing but the "Triple Canopy" of the bush is just too thick. Nice thought though

frank_stills36 karma

Apart from getting shot at, what's the most challenging part of aviation in this part of the world?

zambuka4271 karma

I would say in this particular area, weather. It is mainly flat with sparse but large airstrips. The flying I did in Tanzania was some of the most difficult, dangerous, hectic flying I've ever done. From chasing animals off the runways, to landing on inclines on the side of volcanoes and craters with crazy winds and simply people sabotaging runways. Plus birds and downdrafts when flying low for an emergency

TipsySally23 karma

How do you ensure the security and safety of your camp and equipment against rebels and other human intruders? Also, how many rangers are you able to train and support in the bush at a given time?

zambuka42109 karma

Due to security reasons.. we prefer not to discuss our tactics or give away positions/quantity of active rangers. Hope you understand.

KunkmasterFlex23 karma

It's one thing to combat the poachers actually killing the animals and gathering the ivory. Do you ever have run-ins with the actual buyers of the ivory or even corporations that purchase the ivory? What you are doing is affecting their bottom line so I would assume there would be a natural resistance from people like them.

zambuka4239 karma

The supply chain ends so far away, we don't have interaction. Khartoum is the main departure point out of Africa. National geographic did an article about the ivory trail (gps in a fake tusk) and tracked it just east of the Chinko border!

MarchToTorment22 karma

What would you consider the most rewarding moment you've had on the job?

zambuka4243 karma

From the longer term staff:

  • Seeing the positive results and increase of animal density in our "core protection zone"
  • Seeing the animals from the air

For me.. I haven't been here long enough to see the changes that they have, but I can really appreciate from their descriptions what a joy it is to see progress being made

k0alaonvertigo20 karma

I have a piano with ivory keys from the 1870's, so obviously it wasn't illegal then. What are the best ways to recycle and use the ivory we currently have, without having to hunt for more?

zambuka4221 karma

I wish I had a decent answer for you. Ivory exists out there, and we can't change the past. Making it sought after is something I'm concerned about and I'm not sure if recycling the ivory helps or hurts by keeping it desirable.

elypter19 karma

are there cases when the poachers tried to shoot atone of the aircrafts?

zambuka4261 karma

Actually, one of the greatest legacies of the ULM was when it came to the rescue of rangers under fire. It continually buzzed the poachers and diverted attention/fire long enough for the rangers to get clear.

lpreams15 karma

So will you guys be sticking with Windows for the future, maybe with automatic updates disabled? Or are you considering alternatives? Certainly Ubuntu would never do something like this to you.

zambuka4215 karma

Once there is actually time to work on redesigning the system.. we'll take all the advice we've received from both posts

greenokapi11 karma

How did you first get involved in this? Did you just get a job offer from the Chinko reserve?

zambuka4219 karma

I personally found out about this from a friend on facebook. Us african bush pilots love to brag to each other online about our exploits :) It was a nice connection to make. Other staff tell me that they also find it thru friends of friends or going to our website.

zulu-bunsen7 karma

  1. What got you interested in the job in the first place?
  2. What are some challenges you face living in such a remote area?
  3. Do you ever get scared for your life doing your job?
  4. Are there any other IT problems you face out there?
    Thanks for your service against poachers!

zambuka4211 karma

  1. I love bush flying. I fulfilled my lifelong dream a few years ago flying medical emergencies and Masai clinics in Tanzania. I then moved on to Antarctica, but wanted to find another bush flying job in between the on-ice seasons.
  2. Well, it is something most people have to adapt to. I'm ok with a simple lifestyle. I've got a room & a bed, food, good co-workers, and beautiful area. Plus I have plenty of battery life on my laptop for watching movies :)
  3. I have yet to experience anything that has made me fear for my life. I'm not saying I'm a courageous guy.. I'm not :) But knowing the possibility exists for a "hairy situation" keeps you on your toes.
  4. Thanks.. actually I'm still trying to get the whole system back up and running after a storm destroyed half of it. But I am trying to focus more on the project and aircraft... and only do IT when I have to

CSFFlame7 karma

Do poachers bail at the first sign of armed resistance?

zambuka424 karma

Actually.. the ULM has a big valuable impact on this. Flying it near some groups cause them to run away. There are other group however have no problem standing up to us

werelock2 karma

What do you find the most difficult to deal with day-to-day? What problems do you find recurring that other countries or people don't have or take their solutions for granted?

Thanks for the work you're doing and good luck out there! Stay safe man!!

zambuka423 karma

First would be getting in supplies. Infrastructure in the country is ruined because of a lack of maintenance for many years combined with a rainy tropical climate. Distance is obviously a problem.. we are actually very close to the geographically most remote location in all of Africa. Then there's uncertainty. Circumstances are always changing and it's one daily unforseen challenge after another. The political situation in Bangui (Capital) is somewhat under control.. but once you are outside of it, it's more like the wild west.

twoplustwoisyellow2 karma

What's your opinion on the fake rhino horns being introduced into the black market to hinder the value of the real rhino horns? Do you think it will substantially reduce poaching?

zambuka427 karma

We can only hope.. but I personally have heard much about it and love it! I heard of a chemical that can be introduced (I think) into rhino food supply that while not harming the animal, will end up in the rhino horn and affect the human consumer in a very negative way.

Gronkalicious1 karma

Do you think that it's realistic for Microsoft to take into account <1/1,000,000 situations like yours?

zambuka4234 karma

To be honest, I don't think this is a 1 in a million situation. In fact, I first had an issue when a client of mine in the US had their email server suddenly reboot and begin upgrading to Windows 10. I don't do regular maintenance for them and thought I had sufficiently disabled that ability. This was a client with a string of restaurants and without any regard for what the computer's purpose was or the software running Microsoft forced themselves into an admin position. The point is they shouldn't have the right to force us (or trick us) in to actions on our own hardware that we don't want.

TrainOfFort1 karma

1) How often (in your experience) does poaching occur and at what times in the day?

2) Do you see patterns in different poachers, and do you have a way to predict when someone may attack?

zambuka423 karma

1) The majority of the poaching occurs in the dry season (Mid Dec - Mid March). During daylight hours. 2) As stated before, we are preferring not to discuss our tactics for security concerns & success of our mission.