As wildlife in transfrontier conservation areas become more plentiful due to the successes of years of rewilding and conservation management programmes, there is an increased need for rangers. The numbers required to carry out vital protection and conservation work has more than doubled in the last few years.
Ranger selection and basic training happens in Zinave National Park. To accommodate the intake of new recruits, a larger training camp is constructed within weeks. Where before there was bare mud, now there are accommodation tents for the students, a classroom, kitchen and shower block all surrounding a central parade ground.
Critical to wildlife protection, rangers often spend long hours out in the bush under challenging conditions. As being a ranger is certainly not a 9-5 job, Tiaan has to put the trainee rangers through their paces. In six weeks they will learn a range of skills, such as tracking, making arrests, first aid and more. Fitness is of course, paramount, as are drills to help them all work as a team. During translocations, in anti-poaching activities or even digging a truck out of the mud, team work is essential. When in camp, rangers work as a close family unit, with everyone taking turns to cook, clean and manage the camp.
Rangers that pass through are all incredibly special people who are committed to the protection and regeneration of the natural and cultural heritage that will enable and sustain a harmonious future for humankind and the natural world. As wildlife guardians, they understand that animals are huge a draw for tourists. In fact, seeing charismatic animals like elephant, cheetah and other large mammals is often cited as the main reason tourists visit Africa. Of course, every animal is important to a healthy ecosystem, but particular animals, some seen nowhere else in the world, are key to sustainable tourism and careful economic development which will help the future of both people and wildlife in the region. Keep watching Peace Parks TV to follow the new rangers on their journey from rookie to field-ready ranger.