Being a field ranger requires dedication, commitment and sacrifice. These men and women are often away from their loved ones for long periods of time, working in some of the planet’s most remote areas. Patrolling for hours on end requires both physical and mental endurance and rangers need to regularly undergo training sessions to continually improve their performance and knowledge when out in the field.

In Malawi, 140 rangers and officers from Nyika National Park and Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve are sitting in a training session where they are learning about human rights, standard operating procedures and codes of conduct which will lay down the moral and ethical expectations that employees need to adhere to.

Sessions such as these help to equip rangers with valuable skills beyond that of their regular technical training. The knowledge learnt here will help ensure that they carry out their duties without infringing on the rights of the communities surrounding these protected areas.

Both Nyika National Park and Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve form a part of the Malawi-Zambia Transfrontier Conservation Area, where Peace Parks Foundation has been the official implementing agent since 2016, responsible for the planning and implementation of projects in the area. This could not have been done without the generous funding of the KfW Development Bank and participation from both the Malawian and Zambian governments.

A large focus of this development has been to ensure that the livelihoods of the communities living in the buffer zones of Nyika and Vwaza Marsh are prioritised through programmes such as environmentally friendly farming methods, which help to produce a higher yield year-round, as well as putting up fences around the crops to help keep out animals such as elephant and hyena. Apart from this, communities also receive 25% of the revenue generated by the park, which is used for long-term community development projects as identified through the needs of the communities themselves.

Because these communities are so intricately linked to the protected landscapes, rangers are often faced with challenges that living in the buffer zone presents, such as poaching and the illegal use of natural resources. It is therefore important that they are well-trained on how to calmly deal with, diffuse and resolve these situations for the greater benefit of the communities and nature.