Situated in Mozambique’s Inhambane Province and covering an area of 408 000 ha, Zinave National Park plays a critical role in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area. To see the scope of this area herself and why it is so ecologically important, Peace Parks’ Lilian Spijkerman heads out to meet Zinave’s team on the ground and the rangers who are responsible for the protection of the park’s wildlife.

As Zinave’s wildlife numbers continue to increase, and with the planned addition of both black and white rhino which you can find out more about here, it remains critically important that rangers are well-trained and adequately equipped with skills to not only protect themselves, but their team and the wildlife living within these boundaries.

Tiaan Kleynhans, Peace Parks’ Counter-Poaching Unit Coordinator in Zinave, has been working hand in hand with the Southern African Wildlife College, who has been integral in the training of these new recruits. Tiaan explains that out of over 1 000 applications, only 200 were selected to participate in the ranger training selection programme, of which only 40 were selected to start the actual ranger training which involved a series of intense physical tests and learning specialised skills such as navigation and firearm training. Out of these 40 participants, only 34 were selected to be a part of Zinave’s ranger’s team.

These rangers’ duties will be to perform daily patrols on foot within the park, keeping a lookout for any signs of poaching incursions. They will have to remove snares if found and respond to any emergencies across the park, as well as work in other aspects of security such as full-time gate access control.

With the historic event of returning rhino in Zinave, Peace Parks and partners have made sure that these odd-toed ungulates get the best possible protection.

This will be done by employing an additional 32 rangers who will be permanently stationed with the rhino. The rangers will be supported by the quick reaction unit that consists of a helicopter, specialised rangers and a tracking dog. The four-legged eco-warrior is a relatively new addition to Zinave and as important to the protection of wildlife as any other staff member. By being able to detect even the faintest of scents, the dogs will be tasked with ensuring the safety of the animals by sniffing out snares and tracking down poachers.

With wildlife conservation being an around the clock job, Peace Parks is grateful to all the rangers and team members who go above and beyond the typical 9-5 working hours, dedicating their lives to the protection of our wild spaces!