Night Capabilities for Counter-Poaching Rangers A Pre-Requisite

Counter Poaching Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer

For counter-poaching rangers to be able to act decisively against poaching gangs, they need to be well-trained, well equipped, well led and be extremely motivated. Being able to patrol and operate into the darkness of night is also a pre-requisite and yet many are nervous or unwilling to do so for fear of encounters with dangerous game such as lion or elephant.

There is also often the misguided belief that poachers can hold a massive advantage over ranger teams by entering protected areas at night to hunt their quarry. Importantly, it must be recognized that the challenges that the night gives is neutral to both the poacher and ranger. Training providers and instructors therefore must ensure that the rangers are trained and equipped to be able to use the darkness to maximize their own advantage. Rangers are seldom selected for their understanding and passion of the bush and yet this is probably the most important aspect of their skill set. Those that are comfortable with working in the dangerous environment of the bush will easily transition to being able to work into the darkness of night and therefore gain the upper advantage over the poachers. It is easy to train up for physical fitness and even to train a ranger to operate with “military-type” precision at the point of contact but if these rangers are inherently afraid of the bush they will fail in their task and the poacher will always own the night. More focus has to be given at the point of ranger selection and throughout training to ensuring strong bush skills.