For 11 years Kapuna Lepele was a poacher. He and his fellow elephant killers would spend weeks in the Kenyan bush tracking the animals before harvesting them for their ivory. His favourite method was to wait by a watering hole, hiding behind a nearby rock, before firing a poisoned arrow as they came down to drink. In total he killed 72 elephants that way.
Compared to the profits made by the criminal overlords he answered to, the rewards were not great. They can command £1,400 per kilogram for tusk sold on the black market to ivory-hungry clients in Asia. Lepele would only receive a few hundred dollars for a successful hunt.
But that was enough to make him a rich man in an area of East Africa where most people struggle to earn as much as £3 a day. He would have been able to buy a house not only for himself but for his parents, as well as luxuries far beyond the means of most of his peers.
The problem was he could not spend it. The local people in the surrounding area were so outraged by his activity they banned him from their villagers, forcing him to sleep in the forest. “At one point 300 members of the local community came to find me to tell me stop,” he said. “They were saying you are a notorious poacher. I knew I was not was not welcome."...