For the rangers on the frontline of conservation, a rhino security patrol is extremely dangerous and heightens their senses of awareness to the maximum!
The potential of running into well-armed poachers runs thick and mental preparation prior to heading out on a patrol is essential. After a thorough kit check, the rangers deliberately slow their breathing down to control and compensate for their increased heart rates. Once out in the field, they make sure that nothing is rushed and that their movements become well coordinated as they work as a team. They signal to one another by hand and regular stops are made in the bush to just observe and listen. Eyes are constantly searching for any abnormality and hearing is peeled to listen for any unnatural sounds or alarm calls. Sense of smell becomes highly aware of anything that gives away the presence of other humans and every one of the ranger’s footsteps is carefully placed so as not to make a sound and give away the presence of the rangers. Add to this that the rangers must cover huge distances walking in harsh terrain under extreme weather conditions and one easily realizes that they are indeed the frontline of conservation protecting our wildlife in a difficult anti-poaching war.
This image was taken during a rhino security patrol and with the support of Big Game Parks-Swaziland
This 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.