DATE 18 OCT 2021- 26 NOV 2021

On our arrival on Sunday 18 October 2021, Corporal Mbuso took us to our place of rest and welcomed us. This happened to be “Tents”, which most of us were not expecting, thinking we would be staying in proper rooms. We left our luggage and went straight to the office to sign the indemnity form. And that’s how we were ‘’officially handed over to the ranger camp”.

After signing the indemnity, we were taken to the parade ground and we were told to “form up”, yet another thing we were not expecting. We mumbled. 

We were then told to run to the gate, touch it and come back. That is when reality kicked in. The weather was not favorable on that day, which made things worse. We had to sing and we could not sing. 

We then departed to our tents to rest, as we were also tired from traveling. Around 23h00 we were woken up by a whistle and found a gentleman whom we did not know who then commanded that we sing. He then told us that he will come back at 00h00 for us to sing as we failed to sing at 23h00, and he finally came at 01h00 and boy did we sing until he released us to go back and sleep.

We started classes on Monday 19 October 2021. In the morning we all met at the parade ground where all instructors were introduced to us officially. We were given rules and instructions regarding the camp and what is expected of us.

PHYSICAL TRAINING

We were introduced to a routine of waking up at 5h00 every morning for physical training (PT). The first week was the worst, most of us struggled with waking up, some experienced injuries, and some managed well while some almost gave up. We struggled with adapting to the environment, the physical training (PT), and the changes it came with.

However, after two weeks we had gotten used to everything including the waking up. We were now comfortable with PT. In fact, we benefited so much from the PT. This included discipline, fitness, and time management to name a few. We have Corporal Mbuso and Sergeant Gert to thank for that.

DRILLS 

We will never forget this experience. Some members thought they were dreaming, as they would never have thought they would ever do or achieve such a thing.

The commands, counting and steps confused us to the core. We would run to the gate, touch it and come back but every time we got a step wrong. As time went on, we ended up getting the steps, counting’s and commands right and drilling got to be what we called “MAD FUN”.  

Drilling taught us how to focus, which is the most important thing. It brought back a few members’ confidence, you feel confident and proud of yourself after each session. Lastly, it taught us about posture and behavior. You do not do like you want in the squad, discipline is a must . As a ranger you face your future and stand still.

CLASS

Firstly, our facilitator was the best. He is really good at what he does and was as good in “pranking” us as well. Secondly, punctuality was the number one rule, class commenced at 9h00-16h00 Monday to Saturday.  This required as we needed to learn a lot in a very short space of time. T

The lessons were very informative and the facilitator made sure everyone was on the same page as everyone else.

Training to become a basic field ranger is not only about physical fitness, mental fitness forms part of the criteria required. Attending classes became part of the mental fitness training but there were other mental lessons to be learnt as well. 

One of the lessons we were taught in class was the necessity of teamwork and leadership skills just to name a few. For us it became essential to learn how to conduct ourselves in a team, plus of course we learnt about conserving nature. Some learners were allowed to present a few modules to the class. This was something our class was well prepared for.

The class was a wonderful experience, as were also taught about certain basic principles that we can and need to apply on daily basis. We have gained new knowledge and skills, learning about firearm handling and how to apply critical thinking abilities. 

THE SHOOTING RANGE

Since we were doing an armed field ranger course, we had to learn how to handle a firearm. This module would give all the students an opportunity to operate a rifle. Some of the students had a phobia when it came to firearms, others couldn’t wait to start. Those that were nervous, found the firing of shots devastating as it would be their first time to handle a firearm, but they were taught it was the or the poacher. It ended up actually being the best experience for all students. With the guidance and assistance of Sir KB and Corporal Mbuso, who ensured that we are ready having learnt about the laws and about firearms, the training was further facilitated by Mr. TP Zitha from Aim training academy.

Mr. Zitha presented four days of theoretical lessons and on the fifth day we were taken to the shooting range. Upon arrival, we were provided with personal protective equipment (PPE). Each student was given twenty rounds of live ammunition to shoot at the targets. Having been well prepared all the students did very well on the assessment.

BUSH PHASE

The primary purpose of the bush phase was to improve our ability to work as field rangers in the conservation sector. Our first night was a “nightmare” but a great experience. We did several foot patrols with our instructors and it was quite overwhelming because we encountered one of the most dangerous predators and not just one, we saw eighteen lions and one big Mufasa the next day! What scared us the most was staying in an open area without any form of security. Because of the teamwork, and what we had learnt, we managed to cope with the situation.

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CATERING 

Here at the base, we were fed three meals per day. All meals were served at a specific time, breakfast at 08h00, lunch at 13h00, and supper at 18h00. The kitchen staff did their best to ensure that the meals were served on time, and that they were nutritious and enjoyable.

CONCLUSION

Regardless of all challenges encountered during the training programme, we managed to start as a team and finish the course as a team, having learnt the importance of teamwork.

We felt that:

  • This is a well-structured programme run by a well-structured college (SAWC)
  • The skills, attributes, and competencies that we were equipped with, are fully implementable at our different reserves and will enable us to do our jobs, whilst staying safe. 
  • Some of the infrastructure (tents, bathrooms) at the ranger camp do require renovations.

We would like to thank the staff members for their support and patience. Everything was TAMUM!

Field Ranger Law Enforcement Course - Armed

The purpose of this training is to improve the learners ability to work as a field ranger in the area of conservation by reinforcing and improving the skills that he/she currently has and then building skills and abilities upon these. Upon completion of the programme the learner will be able to provide basic protected areas security, be capable of gathering useful data on the natural resources under his/her care. The learner’s understanding of how natural systems function will improve and he/she should gain a better understanding of the resources under his/her care; with consideration of resources that require particular conservation concern.

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1 Response
  1. Thapelo Mathebula

    This is interesting story to tell, i wish i was there to experience it too but i hope one day it will me narrating this story. Anyway i also interested in this course, it will dream come true if i be part of the candidate some day. But i hope so my wish will come true. Let’s hope for the best that one day i will be part of your candidate. Thank you!.

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