This group of rangers in Zinave National Park has received information from an informer that a group of eight armed poachers with home-made shotguns are going to hunt in Zinave National Park over the weekend. The poachers apparently planned to cross back and forth from Manika Province during the night in order to sell the meat from any kills they make. Armed with this information, Tiaan Kleynhans, the Counter-Poaching Unit Coordinator, briefs the team for an extended patrol, which could mean anything from 10 to 14 days away from their base camp.
Full use is made of their environment deep in the bush, setting up tents under some shady trees and drawing out operational plans in the sand in order to minimise their disturbance of the environment.
This counter-poaching team will spend time patrolling the area looking for evidence of the poachers’ presence, establishing observation posts to assess the number of poachers and their movements, and then managing operations in the hope of making arrests.
They set up an observation post by a river laden with hippo, so they need to move carefully, aware that at night the hippo will come ashore to feed. On patrol they discover two sets of fresh tracks opposite the camp they are observing. This means they have located the poachers, which is great news. When night falls the rangers put on their camouflage kit, fully equipped to ensure they can move discreetly as well as safely.
After a successful few hours, the poachers retreat across the river, dropping three shotguns that are then confiscated by the rangers. As no arrests were made this might not seem like a success story, but in fact, three fewer weapons at large is a win for conservation. Moreover, disturbing poachers from hunting means that wildlife is protected for another night. Every day or night that poachers can be prevented from killing another animal is a success for Peace Parks Foundation and partners. Healthy populations of wildlife are integral to a future where humankind and wildlife will live in peace side by side, with people turning to alternative livelihoods through nature-tourism rather than poaching.