By Pieter Nel – Senior Trainer
On Friday, 21 October Geraldine Sibuyi and I left for Banhine National Park in Mozambique to conduct Eco Ranger training.
It was with a sense of trepidation that we turned off the tarred road at Moucoumbe. The sand road had very little signage to indicate if we were on the correct path, and our cellphone’s GPS didn’t work, never mind the fact that there was absolutely no signal.
Somehow , we finally arrived at Banhine headquarters at six in the evening. There we met Abel, the Park Manager. He promptly organised for someone to show us our accommodation.
The Eco Trainers I trained in July (for the 30-day EcoRanger Training based at the SAWC) met us at the camp where we stayed. Fish Eagle Research Camp is situated on the Changane river – a moist contrast snaking through the mopane forests and sandveld woodlands.
On Monday, we started training in the village of Tchai Tchai. Situated eight kilometres from the Banhine headquarters, this sprawling Shangaan village set the scene for entertaining discussions and thought provoking ideas over the next five days.
A shady cashew nut tree in the centre of the village was our classroom. Training started after the pleasantries.
The concept of a plastic kraal to keep hundreds of cattle inside at night attracted an audience. We are hopeful these kids will take part in healing their environment in the years to come.
The concept of low stress cattle handling and full control of a herd was somewhat foreign at first, but the participants quickly got the hang of it. So did the cattle.
Wednesday, 26 October 2022 will go down as a historical day in Parque National de Banhine. It was the first day a herd was herded with skilled people, and the first day a boma was erected in the park.
Newly erected boma inside the park.
At the conclusion of the training, the participants had solutions for all the environmental challenges they faced prior to the training.
This training enables communities to improve their environmental situation, use resources in a manner which not only improves it over time but increases it and mitigates conflict between authorities and communities and between humans and wildlife. It also increases the resilience of their livelihoods.
Some very worthwhile time spent indeed!