Well-trained and competent field rangers with an advanced skill set that includes the efficient tracking of humans, are an increasingly vital tool for Anti-Poaching Units (APUs) to successfully manage and counter the escalating threat of poaching of rhino and elephant for their horn and ivory.
Eight highly skilled APU rangers from three private game reserves recently attended an advanced eight-day SASSETA (Safety & Security Sector Education Training Authority) accredited Combat Man Tracker Training course at Kwandwe Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape, thanks to a Chipembere Rhino Foundation funded and Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA) coordinated collaboration.
The expert facilitation of the training course is also a joint initiative between the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) and Counter Insurgency Tracker Training (CITT). The course was designed to contribute to curbing the current poaching crisis in South Africa by upskilling APU and field rangers to identify signs of human activity and human tracks left by poachers and to identify and react to illegal and criminal activity in their areas of operation.
“Within the current legal system, poachers are in many instances not convicted due to technicalities. For this reason, it is imperative that field rangers or game guards conducting counter-poaching operations are qualified, at a national level, in man tracking,” explains Colin Patrick, co-founder of CITT, who is a qualified professional hunter and Senior Tracker; an accredited training provider with the Field Guides Association of South Africa (FGASA); and an approved Sasseta and Cathseta assessor. “The training serves to impart the skills, knowledge and tactics required for trackers to be successful and efficient, thereby maximising their effectiveness in the field.”
Eight field rangers were selected based on strict criteria to attend the Combat Man Tracker Training course at Kwandwe which covered:
• Qualities of a good tracker
• Spoor detection and patrol principles
• Track and sign identification – man and animal
• Track and sign interpretation – man and animal
• Ageing of spoor
• Interpreting a human trail
• Use of GPS, compass and camera in the field
• Scene interpretation and intelligence gathering
• Tactical team tracking
• Effective hand signal communication
• Lost spoor procedures
• ID Anti-tracking and relocate suspects tracks
• Important Standard Operating Procedures
• Managing the bigger response to incursion
• Formative and summative assessments
On successful completion of the training course, each candidate underwent a final assessment against the SASSETA-accredited unit standard “Track a Person” US ID 376642, and was issued with a certificate of achievement from SAWC and CITT; a badge for the relevant level achieved; and accreditation with the nationally-recognised unit standard.
Chipembere Rhino Foundation has previously funded training programmes in conjunction with GRAA, including training 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; as well as an Advanced Marksmen and Tactics for Night Operations training programme.
“We believe these advanced courses available for Anti-Poaching teams are extremely important in continually providing these individuals with the required advanced skill set and tools to best equip them in protecting wildlife species.” says Brent Cook.
The Combat Man Tracker Training course was made possible by Springbok Atlas Tours & Safaris’ efforts to raise funds for rhino conservation. An amount of R75,000.00 was raised as part of Rhino Ride, a conservation initiative supported by Springbok Atlas Tours and Safaris, a Cape Town-based tour operator. For each guest booked on specific long-distance tours, a donation is made to rhino conservation beneficiaries, chosen based on their credibility and transparent fund application.
“On behalf of Chipembere Rhino Foundation and the precious surviving rhinos we are protecting, we wish to thank everyone at Springbok Atlas Tours & Safaris for another amazing contribution,” says Brent Cook. “Your passion, commitment and your contribution to this worthwhile cause is a reminder that each one of us can make a difference!”
For further information on:
Game Rangers Association of Africa, visit http://www.gameranger.org/
Counter Insurgency Tracker Training, visit http://cit-training.co.za/
South African Wildlife College, visit http://wildlifecollege.org.za/
Springbok Atlas Tours & Safaris, visit their Facebook page or their website http://springbokatlas.com/