‘Rhino Wars’ Star Uses Special Ops Training to Fight Poaching in South Africa

Celebrity Q&A, Featured Article
on March 20, 2013
Animal Planet
Heroic efforts being done to save the Rhino population.

What can you tell me about Oz from Animal Planet’s “Rhino Wars”?
Oliver Broussrad, Natchez, Miss.

“Oz”—his birth name is not revealed to protect his identity—and his family immigrated from Iran to Orange County, Calif., in 1986, where his parents became U.S. citizens.
Despite the fact that his family fled Iran to avoid the violence, civil unrest of the revolution, Oz joined the army as an infantryman at 17 and found he had a natural ability for military life.

After a short break to pursue an education, he returned to the Armed Forces and attended Special Warfare School, where he studied Special Operations combat training and earned a coveted Green Beret, making him a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces.

During his career, Oz has been deployed to Afghanistan numerous times on various operations for both the Department of Defense and other U.S. Government agencies. He has operated in Thailand and Africa on missions outside of military service.

An experienced 18D combat veteran, Oz, 32, who currently calls Virginia home, specializes in trauma medicine in hostile environments and remains active with his Special Forces unit.

For Animal Planet’s “Battleground: Rhino Wars,” Oz was recruited by Craig “Saw” Sawyer as one of four Americans—all former members of U.S. elite Armed Forces—to work with South Africa’s anti-poaching units to defend the country’s rhinos, which are on their way to extinction, against poachers.

“No matter how many poachers we catch with what amount of firepower, it’s just not going to make a difference,” says Oz, who is hoping that the real result of “Rhino Wars” will be to educate the public.

“There’s a concept here that this horn has some sort of magical healing properties. I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but I know that the rhino horn is made out of keratin and your fingernails are made out of keratin. If this had magical healing properties, we wouldn’t be going to our doctors when we get sick. We’d just sit at home and nibble on our fingernails.”