Poaching remains one of the greatest threats to conservation in Africa. Combating poaching has therefore become a national and international priority. Field rangers (also known as game scouts or game guards) are the front line staff in the anti-poaching efforts. The field rangers are working to protect conservation areas according to established national and international law in the struggle to eliminate poaching.
A well-trained field ranger force is also one of the most effective strategies for ensuring that the integrity of any conservation area is maintained. African Field Ranger Training Services (AFRTS) was established in 2000 in South Africa to meet the growing demand for well-trained field rangers in conservation areas throughout Africa. The training program offered by AFRTS instills an understanding of basic ecological concepts, introduces techniques for involving communities in conservation, and provides instruction in practical methods of combating poaching and understanding applicable laws relative to the country they are working within.
FCF’s private anti-poaching rangers just completed a two-week comprehensive training program with AFRTS. Below are some images from the recent program.
In addition to the ranger leadership training with AFRTS, FCF’s rangers also recently underwent a three-day first aid course with in-house nurse Sam Roberts. Below are several images taken during this first aid course.
Changes and improvements planned for 2011
FCF is proud to report that our anti-poaching presence has significantly increased in several areas of our operations. We will now have 20 full time rangers based in Maswa (as opposed to between 5 and 10 in previous years). The Ugalla, Natron and Moyowosi South teams have also received an additional 5 rangers and one vehicle each, doubling FCF’s resources in each of these areas. The microlight program has been assigned 5 rangers and a vehicle in an effort to further increase the efficacy of our aerial patrols. We are confident that these changes will significantly improve FCF’s coverage on the ground and are hopeful that this will be reflected by a decrease in serious poaching incidents in 2011.
Anti-poaching ranger training in 2011
FCF has several training interventions planned for the first half of 2011. In early May, the African Field Ranger Training Services (AFRTS – www.afrts.co.za) will visit us once again to provide our patrol commanders with an intensive two week patrol leader course. Immediately after the conclusion of the AFRTS course, the patrol commanders will receive a refresher first aid course. At the end of May and into June, FCF will host Ken Oesterreich from Strategic Articulation Management (SAMTACS – www.samtacs.com). Ken last visited FCF in 2009 to provide our rangers with training in close quarter combat, minimum force arrest procedures for individuals/teams, and unarmed self defense focusing on edged weapon disarming and management. This will be an interesting and informative six week period for our program.
On 1 February 2010, the FCF anti-poaching division welcomed Mr. Ruben de Kock and Mr. Theo Landman of the African Field Ranger Training Services (AFRTS) to our Lake Natron concession. Ruben and Theo were called upon to put our anti-poaching field staff through a rigorous selection course and evaluation, followed by a basic field training course. Of the 76 rangers who were put thru their paces (4 additional rangers were excused due to injury/illness) just twenty men passed the selection stage. While this may appear to be a high attrition rate, we view it as an indication of the overall quality of our ranger corps. It is our sincere hope that these 20 men will be the foundation upon which we build the anti-poaching program in the years to come.
An additional 40 rangers were invited back (on probation) to attend the training course, which covered topics such as the role of the field ranger, patrol techniques, observation points, listening points, distance sighting, orders, patrol planning, aspects of Tanzanian wildlife law, arrest procedures, self-defense and minimum force techniques. In the near future we will conduct another selection course and evaluation in order to build our numbers back to the desired eighty personnel.
We at FCF would like to thank Ruben and Theo and the AFRTS for helping us establish a new ethos and standard by which our anti-poaching field staff will be measured by. It is our expectation that this will in turn result in a higher level of efficacy in our fight against poaching in Tanzania.
FCF patrol commanders attended a 2-day (14 hour) first aid training course conducted by Samantha Roberts on the 15th and 16th of February. Areas that were covered include:
- Artificial respiration
- Cardiac resuscitation
- Wound management
- Bandaging, splinting and immobilization techniques
- Heat related illnesses
- Snake bites
Instructor Sam Roberts said that she “found the commanders as a whole to be calm and well organized with all aspects of the training”. Due to the potentially dangerous nature of anti-poaching work, training such as this will prove invaluable and could realistically save a life.
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