Field Ranger Training and Mentoring are Imperative in the War Against Rhino Poaching

Conservation_Ranger_Training_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer

Field rangers work at the frontline of conservation, ensuring the territorial integrity of these wild places and they are the foot soldiers in the war against rhino poaching. All conservation efforts in Africa will amount to very little without a well skilled, resourced, dedicated and motivated field force.

The Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA) has initiated a mentorship initiative that builds on the critical skills that African rangers perform in ensuring the integrity of the continent’s protected areas. The project is using well-trained and experienced game rangers with vast practical field experience to provide in-field mentorship to rangers in the frontlines of African conservation.

This mentorship initiative aims to improve ranger’s effectiveness in the field by:-

• Assessing the needs of the field ranger team in terms of skills and equipment.
• Building on theoretical skills that rangers have learnt during training by passing on practical experience and in-field techniques.
• Addressing the mounting gap developing between protected area management and their field ranger teams.
• Ensuring that the basic skills needed to ensure the integrity of protected areas are in place and that field ranger teams are operating at optimal levels to combat the ever increasing poaching pressures.

The GRAA through its extensive and experienced membership base is well positioned to establish a field ranger mentorship network. Its members are leaders in the field of special operations training. The years of experience in the areas of practical anti-poaching and game ranging operations make them the perfect people to mentor rangers in the field.

As part of this initiative, I lead an initial session of mentorship and training with the field rangers of the Somkhanda Private Game Reserve that is owned by the Gumbi Tribe and managed by Wildlands Conservation Trust. Field ranger effectiveness improved vastly and I will again soon be returning to Somkhanda to work specifically with up-skilling a highly effective Anti-poaching Unit. In this image, rangers practise the principals of going into 360 degree cover.

This conservation photography project is carried out in partnership with the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA) that provides support, networks and representation for game rangers across Africa. This conservation photography project will use rangers as the “lead characters” to highlight the issues faced by conservationists and showcase opportunities for improved support of rangers in the future. Positive and targeted messages will be communicated that emphasise the critical role that rangers play in African conservation in ensuring that the continent’s natural heritage is preserved for the benefit of future generations. Support Africa’s Rangers by supporting the GRAA.

Peter Chadwick is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) whose mission is to further environmental and cultural conservation through photography. The iLCP’s goal is to use the art of high-quality photography to encourage people to take action in support of tangible and meaningful conservation measures.

Visit African Conservation Photography for a full gallery of Ranger images.