The Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) was privileged to be included in HRH Prince Harry’s visit to South Africa as part of a Royal Tour, which included stops in Lesotho, Cape Town, Durban, the Kruger National Park and Johannesburg. Following his visit to the Kruger National Park, on 2 December 2015 he met with students at the College’s Field Ranger training base and then went on to meet with the graduands of the Wildlife Area Management training programme.
During his visit, Prince Harry spoke of his love of Africa and concern for its wildlife. In addressing the granduands, Prince Harry called the battle against poaching a test for all humanity, which we cannot afford to fail.
“There is no pretending that this will be easy,” he added. “But when we win this battle, the victory will belong to those of you on the frontline.”
Below is a full transcript of the speech (http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/media/speeches/speech-prince-harry-the-south-african-wildlife-college-kruger-national-park-south) together with visuals from the visit.
During his speech, Prince Harry also announced United for Wildlife’s support to the College, “I am delighted to announce today that my brother’s United for Wildlife partnership will work with, and fund, the Southern African Wildlife College so that its graduates are equipped with the best techniques and technologies available to protect some of the world’s most endangered species.”
The collaboration will provide significant funding to help train wildlife area managers and field rangers protecting Southern Africa’s endangered species, whilst also providing support to the Community based Natural Resource Management unit.Below is a full transcript of the media release issued by United for Wildlife (http://www.unitedforwildlife.org/#!/2015/12/united-for-wildlife-provides-funding-for-ranger-training)
Published on 2nd December 2015
Thank you everyone for the warm welcome here this morning. As someone who cares deeply about conservation, Africa and the protection of endangered animals, I look up to rangers with a huge amount of respect, knowing the hardships you face on a daily basis.
This summer I was able to spend several months working with you and your peers here at Kruger and in places across southern Africa. My love of Africa has never been any secret – it’s just been a huge part of my private life. I’ve always wanted to keep it like that until I had the experience of age to give something back to a place that has given me and so many others the freedom and space we all crave. This continent has given me thousands of happy memories since 1997 and for that I am indebted to it.
After a summer working alongside rangers, I now fully understand the skill you bring to your work, the sacrifices you and your families make for you to do it, and the perseverance you demonstrate every day in the face of huge challenge. To those of you graduating today can I say congratulations – you are part of a profession that cannot be appreciated enough and that is dealing with very difficult circumstances. In my view: rangers are heroes. I hope you are incredibly proud of your achievements.
Kruger is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Its animals are a huge part of South Africa's economy. Across all of Africa 80% of tourism revenue is dependent on people coming to see iconic wildlife.
But in recent years Kruger has also become a major killing field. The numbers of rhinos poached in South Africa has grown by nearly 500% in just five years, with most of these occurring in Kruger. Already this year 1,500 rhinos have been killed in this country. That is four every day. If current poaching rates continue there will be no wild African elephants or rhinos left by the time children born this year, like my niece, Charlotte, turn 25. If we let this happen, the impact on the long-term prosperity of this country and on the natural heritage of the planet will be enormous and irreversible.
Demand for rhino horn and ivory on the other side of the Earth is fuelling this carnage. Bad taste in fashion and decoration, and disproven beliefs in medicine are leading some people to covet animal products with no care for the consequences. People are willing to let a species go extinct so they can have an ivory trinket, Rhino horn doorstop or get a supposed cure for a headache.
The market value for rhino horn has grown significantly and has created a huge incentive for desperate people to risk their lives for a payday from ruthless criminal traffickers.
In the face of this, it would be easy to become despondent - but all of you here today know that we must not. We can win this battle. This is a test for all humanity and we cannot afford to fail. Nature needs us to fight her battles and in this case, protect her animals, some of which have been on this planet for tens of thousands of years.
I have seen for myself that you and your fellow rangers are doing everything in your power to turn this tide, and we must support your efforts in whatever way we can.
My brother, William, is working at a global level to encourage countries like America and China to lead the way in ending demand for ivory and rhino horn and to help African nations with the resources they need to beat the traffickers.
Next week in London, he will host a global taskforce of transportation firms, government agencies, and wildlife experts to agree an ambitious plan to shutdown global trafficking routes. William has put the fate of endangered species back on the agenda of governments, companies, and NGOs around the world. I am incredibly proud of what he is achieving and will do whatever I can to support him.
I know that here in South Africa the Government is committed to do even more to protect its animals and economy. I have heard from many of you how important the legal framework is if you are to effectively stop poachers before they strike. This should be viewed as a time of war and you need laws that are up to the challenge.
South African leadership in this regard has set an example for others to follow, just as the South African Environment Minister Edna Molewa did last week in challenging the recent court ruling that people should be allowed to buy and sell rhino horn. It’s not for me to second guess a court or the legal reasons behind its decision, but what I strongly believe is that the legalisation of rhino horn trading will accelerate the path to extinction.
In addition to stronger laws and global action to stem transport routes and reduce demand, we need to do more to help those of you on the frontline of the conservation battle. I am delighted to announce today that my brother’s United for Wildlife partnership will work with, and fund, the Southern African Wildlife College so that its graduates are equipped with the best techniques and technologies available to protect some of the world’s most endangered species.
There is no pretending that any of this will be easy. It won't be. But when we win this battle and reverse the rise in poaching, the victory will belong first and foremost to those of you here on the frontlines. So let me thank you for all you have done and all you will do.
02 Dec 2015 12:03
United for Wildlife has announced it is partnering with the Southern African Wildlife College in the fight against poaching and illegal wildlife trade. The collaboration will provide significant funding to help train rangers protecting Southern Africa’s endangered species.
Prince Harry, who is an Ambassador for United for Wildlife, spoke about the partnership during a visit to the Southern African Wildlife College just outside Kruger National Park today.
Speaking to recent graduates of a ranger training programme together with current trainees, Prince Harry said: “You are part of a profession I hold in huge esteem that is dealing with very difficult circumstances.”
He continued: “In addition to stronger laws and global action, we need to do more to help those on the front line of the conservation battle. I am delighted to announce today that my brother’s United for Wildlife partnership will work with, and fund, the Southern African Wildlife College so that its graduates are equipped with the best techniques and technologies available to protect some of the world’s endangered species.”
United for Wildlife’s funding will support the Southern African Wildlife College to build on its existing needs-based training to include Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tools (SMART) and additional support to the Community Based Natural Resources Management work. This will in turn enable the College to build existing staff capacity and engage new trainers, whilst also supporting Protected Area Managers across the SADC region
Specialist skills training will help ensure that field rangers are provided with the necessary skills have to handle the increasingly sophisticated methods that poaching gangs are using to peddle the illegal trade in rhino horn and ivory.
SMART technology (including satellites, ground sensors and GPS trackers) is a key tool for the rangers, as it enables them to monitor protected sites more efficiently. It also helps streamline their response to the poachers by quickly collecting and analysing data on the ground.
The numbers of rhino poached in South Africa has grown by nearly 500% in just five years, with most of these occurring in the Greater Kruger National Park. Already this year, 1,500 rhino have been killed in this country, according to South African National Parks. During his visit to the Southern African Wildlife College, Prince Harry highlighted how rangers are using their specialised skills to deal with the alarming number of incidents, and how intelligence and evidence is gathered to secure convictions or prevent further incidents.
“The Southern African Wildlife College has increased its field ranger training capability to include specialist anti-poaching skills which are further supported by our aerial patrols and ground to air patrol training as well as a newly established canine anti poaching capability. We are extremely proud to have been selected as a partner by United for Wildlife in the fight against poaching which is further supported SMART and the involvement of local communities,” said the College CEO, Theresa Sowry.
Naomi Doak, Project Director for United for Wildlife added, “We are delighted to be able to draw attention to the human side of the illegal wildlife trade and support not only those who are at the front line in the protection of some of the worlds’ most iconic species but also the local communities in these areas. Ensuring those on the ground have the skills and experience necessary is key to ensuring the conservation of these species.”
About United for Wildlife
United for Wildlife is an unprecedented alliance between seven of the world’s most influential conservation organisations and The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. The collaboration between Conservation International (CI), Fauna & Flora International (FFI), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), WWF-UK, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and The Royal Foundation hopes to lead the way to substantially increase the global response to major conservation crisis.
United for Wildlife hopes to bring attention to acute conservation problems, the most pressing of which, as agreed amongst the collaboration, is the rapid escalation of the illegal wildlife trade. This trade is having a devastating effect on wild populations of some of the largest and most iconic species: elephants, rhinos and tigers, plus lesser-known animals such as the pangolin.
Theresa Sowry, SAWC CEO & Ruben de Kock, SAWC BUM Protected Area Integrity/ Field Ranger Training meet HRH Prince Harry & Major General Johan Jooste, Commanding Officer of KNP
HRH Prince Harry meets with the SAWC students