Morning Joe | March 08, 2013
>>> it's really incredible to see these rhinos in the wild and it's a bit unnerving to see how close we're able to get to them.
>> i don't understand how anybody would kill these animals.
>> no. look at the size of that moon. that's a giant light for these poachers. the team is ready at this point. the poachers' moon is up. we're ready to get some. now you see what you've been called to do, what you've been called to protect.
>> that was a scene from animal planet 's new mini-series battle ground rhino wars. here with us now, a green beret whose full name we will not use. gentlemen, thanks for being here.
>> it's a pleasure.
>> so i'll set the backdrop. where are we and what is this fight about?
>> it's in south africa . this fight is really about saving the last of a species that's been around for 50 million years and has been pushed to the brink of extinction by sheer greed.
>> how did you guys enter this story? if this is a south african story, why do we have two americans entering?
>> it is a south african story but it's a global problem because we're all losing our rhinos. we don't have them here net states unless they're in a zoo. so i got a call from the head of the production company, who's heavily involved in why would life conservation. he said how do you feel about raising public awareness?
>> i said, i think that's a beautiful idea. let's make it happen.
>> who are the approachers? who are you up against?
>> it's really a wide range of people, mostly crime syndicates who run drugs and anything they can turn a profit in the black market . neighboring countries, mozambique, zimbabwe, local villagers being exploited, but the big money 's being made in china and other asian countries .
>> do you come face-to-face are or you in protective mowed?
>> we come face-to-face with the poachers.
>> what about your military training prepared you for this and what were some new things you had to learn about wildlife?
>> i think our military training was perfect for this. if you look at the history of what special operations has been asked to do for this country, it's going into bad places sometimes with an unknown force and problem solving , how do you fight that force. so i think that was very, very pivotal for us to fall back on. we didn't know what we were walking into. we had no idea the magnitude of the organization these syndicates had.
>> they killed park rangers as well.
>> right. you're talking about a lot of money. you're talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars per animal. so you're talking about 700 animals killed last year. let's be conservative and say $250,000 per animal, that's a lot of money. they don't care who you are.
>> 700 rhinos but also more than 100 park rangers have been killed. you guys have any intense moments out there?
>> we do. these poachers will shoot first and ask questions later. they have no regard for human life or animal life . so they're armed to the teeth to get in there and take their prize and get out and we've got to put ourselves in harm's way to stop them so it gets a little bit like this, but we're accustomed to that. we've spent our lives defending the defenseless, whether american citizens or rhinos. same principle.
>> ozzie, ready to step in and put your life out for rhinos?
>> i have. i'd like to address the tendency of this is a south african is the wrong approach. we all agree we don't want our kids to look at rhinos in picture books or in a zoo, so i think the only way to initiate some change or the animal is to accept that and take responsibility, get ownership in that concept and say, yeah, these are animals and this is not okay.
>> give us a sense of the scale of this thing. so you're on the ground over there. how big of an area are you talking about? what's a day like in terms of what's out in the field?
>> it's the size of switzerland so it's a vast amount of wilderness to cover. so we can't patrol in defensive mowed. we've got to run operations just like against a terrorist group . we've got to figure out when and where they're going to strike and put ourselves in a position through raids, ambushes, vehicle interdictions. we don't talk about that. you'll see that in season two.
>> we're grateful to your service to this country.
battle ground: animal wars airs on animal plant, thursdays, 9 pm , 8 central.
>> coming up next, john brennan confirmed at cia director only after an old-school filibuster exposes fault lines. when i say xerox, i know what you're thinking... transit fares ! as in the 37 billion transit fares we help collect each year. no? oh, right. you're thinking of the 1.6 million daily