Keith Roberts joined Doug Braum and Boniphace Haule in Maswa recently for some important anti-poaching operations. Boni’s training as our microlight pilot, under Doug’s expert tutelage, is progressing very well. Boni is now sitting at 204.2 hours, of which 101.6 hours is in the front seat, a remarkable achievement in extremely trying flying conditions. Over the course of the past year, FCF has recorded over 24,000km of flying. As one can imagine, this brings quite a bit of wear and tear to the microlight which makes the pilots’ ability to service and carry out essential maintenance in the bush critical to the program’s ongoing success.
Pilots not only have to know how to fly but also need to possess the skills to carry out essential engine and frame maintenance on the microlights. Additionally, FCF’s pilots fly many more hours than most other conservation groups under extremely hard weather conditions, hence the wear and tear on the planes. Both Doug and Boni are trained in maintenance procedures for the microlights, which is rare since most pilots do not have the ability or need to conduct maintenance and service overhauls. With these skills, living in a remote and dangerous area, and commanding anti-poaching operations, these guys are a rare breed!
The microlight provides a unique aerial platform that makes it a valuable asset to conservation management. However, for the microlight to be an efficient conservation tool, the pilots must have an excellent understanding of both wildlife management and anti-poaching. Doug and Boni communicate what they have observed from the air (i.e. poacher camps, snare lines, wildlife concentrations, etc.) to the ground teams and game reserve management, and offer advice on how best to achieve the anti-poaching objectives (i.e., arresting poachers, removing threats to wildlife, etc).
The effectiveness of their hard-working team is very apparent by the results achieved when they are in an area. Doug and Boni, for all of your hard work and dedication to conservation, we salute you!