The Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA) promotes the support of Africa’s rangers at the frontlines of conservation. As part of this support, they offer a ranger-mentoring program. Why is this so important? While there are many training courses that improve the effectiveness of rangers under a controlled environment, mentoring takes this training into practice under real conditions by having well-experienced game rangers accompanying these rangers on actual patrol.
I have been working with the GRAA on such a mentoring project in northern Zululand with very positive results for those involved. Through this intervention, we have been able to ensure the development of highly effective anti-poaching teams where through many hours of patrolling, we have fine-tuned their capabilities.
But from my side, I believe that there is far more to the mentoring program. I believe we owe it to the rangers themselves to give them the best that we can offer. They are the ones out there in the discomfort of rugged terrain in all types of inclement weather, protecting animals that could in fact kill them. They are the ones facing the well-armed poachers, having to be repeatedly exposed to the savagely brutalized carcasses of poached rhino or elephant or discover animals wickedly trapped in snares. It is the rangers that have to say good-bye to their families on a regular basis and for long periods of time as they disappear on extended patrols. They have to face the psychological impacts of repeated contacts with the poaching gangs.
In short, we owe it to them to give them the best that we can offer. Mentoring certainly helps them in the field by improving their skills, but it also makes them realise that others care about their well being and that they are part of a bigger conservation family of rangers! Support rangers by supporting the Game Rangers Association of Africa.
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.