To become a good ranger not only requires hard work and dedication, but passion and respect for the environment that you work in. In Mozambique’s Zinave National Park, ranger Hélder Machoco possesses all these qualities making him a formidable force when out in the bush. Hélder forms part of a team of highly skilled rangers tasked to protect a newly introduced white rhino herd.

Hélder has been working in Zinave since 2017 and after a vigorous training and selection programme, was handpicked to take on the task of being a field ranger. If you are a long-time viewer of Peace Parks TV, you will know that the ranger training programme led by Tiaan Kleynhans, the Counter-Poaching Unit Coordinator in Zinave, is anything but a walk in the park. It consists of a series of gruelling physical tests as well as specialised skills training, all of which are important to ensure that rangers can not only protect themselves, but their team and the wildlife when out on patrol in the bush.

Rangers like Hélder are employed from the local communities situated in the buffer zone of the park, which ensures that Peace Parks Foundation helps to support inclusive and sustainable growth. With Zinave now being Mozambique’s first ‘Big 5’ national park, tourism interest continues to rise and, along with it, employment opportunities. As a result of this, rural communities are being lifted out of poverty and are learning why keeping the wildlife safe is of the utmost importance, not just for themselves but future generations too.

It is thanks to the dedicated efforts of rangers like Hélder who help keep the wildlife safe and in turn, play an instrumental role in ensuring that Zinave continues to drive rural development and community upliftment through the sustainable use of wildlife assets. Peace Parks is incredibly grateful to these rangers and recognise the important role that they play in preserving protected areas like Zinave National Park so that future generations will be able to enjoy all of the wonders that places like these holds.