Eastern Cape Senior APU teams trained for night operations

On the frontline of local rhino counter poaching efforts are a brave core of field rangers, working in harsh and hostile environments – day and night – often facing poachers who are armed, organised and ruthless.

Ten highly skilled APU rangers attended a 5 day/night Advanced Marksmen and Tactics for Night Operations training programme, funded by the Chipembere Rhino Foundation (CRF) and facilitated in conjunction with the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA).

“Our rangers are on the frontline of conservation, protecting our wildlife. They need to be well-trained, well-equipped and well-supported,” says Brent Cook, founder of CRF, which specialises in providing anti-poaching teams with vital equipment and advanced training; as well as sourcing, testing and funding technology for rhino monitoring; and funding tracking and apprehension dogs.

“The Advanced Marksmen and Night Operations training programme is vital to ensure APU rangers are prepared, trained and upskilled to do their jobs ethically, effectively and safely. These intensive training programmes also improve the rangers’ confidence, boosts morale and provides a platform for rangers to get familiar working in joint operations between different reserves. It creates a sense of camaraderie, pride and trust, which is critical to successful anti-poaching efforts.”

Ten senior APU rangers from two bordering Eastern Cape wildlife reserves, Shamwari and Amakhala, were selected based on strict criteria to attend the training course at Amakhala. It covered advanced application of weapon skill set training, weapon safety, maintenance, latest technology, tactical movement and use of cover training. The night operations training covered the use of weapons at night, tactical use of flashlights for shooting in low light and darkness, and tactical techniques for limited visibility.

The course was conducted by Clive van Rooyen, an accredited African Field Ranger Training Services (AFRTS) trainer with the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC), a non-profit organisation that specialises in conservation education, training, and skills development.

CRF previously funded a training programme in conjunction with GRAA to equip rangers with legal knowledge of Arrest Procedures and Use of Force (article 49) to ensure rangers operate within the boundaries of the law for their own safety.

“It is imperative that rangers are trained and equipped to improve their effectiveness in combating the growing threat of wildlife and environmental crime,’’ says Andrew Campbell, Chief Executive Officer of GRAA, a non-profit organisation focused on providing networks and support for rangers across Africa, by capacitating them with equipment and training, and promoting their interests.

This workshop was made possible because of the corporate funding and community donations received from renowned tea and coffee specialists, Mastertons, Port Elizabeth’s landmark restaurant, Barney’s Tavern and a group of passionate veterinarians who cycled the 900km joBerg2c Mountain Bike Challenge for rhino conservation; namely Paul Meiring (UK), Jason Davidson (UK), Brendan Tindall (SA) and Robin Beetge (SA). CRF will continue to fund courses for qualified, registered and advanced APU members. The next course will be a SETA-accredited eight-day Advanced Man Tracking course, training and upskilling APU rangers to identify human tracks left by poachers and to identify and react to illegal activity in their areas of operation.

For further information on this course, please contact the Game Rangers Association of Africa on info@gameranger.co.za or 072-1235384, or visit http://www.gameranger.org/. To learn more about the South African Wildlife College, visit http://wildlifecollege.org.za/.

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