Out of 200 applicants, only 34 candidates were selected after passing the gruelling ranger training selection programme in Zinave National Park. The selection programme put the candidates through a series of intense tests that challenged not only their physical condition but also their mental resilience. Now, after completing the initial selection programme, it is time for Counter-Poaching Unit Coordinator Tiaan Kleynhans and his team to equip the selected candidates with the skills they need to protect Zinave National Park effectively.

The role of a field ranger is to ensure wildlife safety, requiring them to work tirelessly on the front lines. Apart from needing to be in peak physical condition and mentally fit to remain alert over long periods, these recruits need to learn vital skills such as patrol planning, navigation and first-aid training that require hours of theory presented by experienced rangers.

Aerial support is one of the strongest force multipliers when it comes to protecting wildlife in areas as large as Zinave, where road infrastructure is limited. Rangers need to be able to board aircraft within seconds, so they are trained to do so by Estevao and Calvin who have years of experience in this.

Weapons training also forms an important part of the training, because it makes the new recruits more confident and competent to make the right decisions under pressure. This goes hand in hand with training that each ranger receives on human rights and standard operating procedures in their line of operations.

Thanks to successful rewilding efforts by Peace Parks Foundation and the Government of Mozambique, the wildlife numbers in Zinave National Park are increasing substantially, which means a larger ranger team is needed. The growth in animal populations ensures that Zinave will continue to become more attractive to tourists as an off-the-beaten-track safari destination, providing employment opportunities for communities and stimulating the local economy. While attempting to restore ecosystems, Peace Parks recognises it remains equally important to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all as outlined in Goal 8 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

We are very grateful for the hard work and dedication these rangers and their teams put in to ensure that wildlife is kept safe. We cannot wait to see how Zinave continues to grow and provide more opportunities within the local communities.

Keep watching Peace Parks TV to see more updates from Zinave.