Home for many Peace Parks Foundation’s rangers in the Limpopo National Park is the remote location of the FOB (Forward Operating Base), where they spend long weeks and months away from their families and loved ones in order to play their vital role in conservation management and protection.
Getting to the Forward Operating Base means taking a plane to the park, then a helicopter ride from the arrival centre flying west over the northern side of Massingir Lake and then heading way into Limpopo National Park. Here, the all-important operations room, which is actually a tent!, is located. It is the nerve centre of all ranger operations in the park. This is where Adilson, the radio operator, is based, providing the access point for all communications from out in the park. From here one can check on the rangers’ locations in the field. And this is where the counter-poaching operations for this part of the park are planned and overseen.
In this 1 000 000 ha park (around half the size of Kruger National Park), it is vital to keep track of where rangers are positioned, so large wall maps chart the landscape. As well as highlighting the location of communities inside the park, ranger pickets and radio towers, the rangers use the maps to plan counter-poaching operations.
But of course, no trip to the FOB would be complete without spending some time with the dogs. Relying on each other for professional and personal support, the rangers form close bonds with each other but also with the animals they work with. Gabriel, a dog handler, admits to a special bond with Fury, one of the tracking dogs, with whom he has worked for four years, since he was a pup. It is always a highlight of any Peace Parks visit and the dogs enjoy the fuss.
If you would like to help rewild Africa and be part of the Peace Parks’ mission, you can donate here: www.peaceparks.org/donate
Remember, it’s not just a gift. You will be making a meaningful difference and impacting the course of conservation history.