Field Ranger Training – Q & A with a Trainee Field Ranger
Course date: 20 July 2020 – 28 August 2020
How many students were present for the course you were on?
36 students were part of the Global Conservation Corps selection process of which only 15 students made it through to the course. There were 22 students in total (20 males and 2 females) on the course. Knowing how hard we worked to be selected, our minds and hearts were in sync and we were determined to make it!
What did your training entail?
The training requires transformation (both physical and mental) to meet the requirements to successfully adapt and work as a field ranger. Discipline was key if we were going to have any chance of success. Mastering this and working together in a team was essential to our success.
Many laws and regulations govern the running of protected areas. Discipline is one instrument enforced within the boundaries of our characters to ensure the correct application of these laws in the workplace.
The drill (physical teamwork) is one of the activities that helps enforce the required discipline and shows the beauty in the harmony of teamwork.
2. Team Work
To build this team we were required to do things together at all times such as cleaning, physical training, and drill activities. These were all an essential part to building this team. It shows just how important teamwork is because if one individual struggles, we all struggle. One person’s success isn’t cause for celebration because people do not work in isolation in the field. We all had to succeed because that’s what a team is all about.
From the start of the selection process, it was stressed that physicality whilst important is not the only winning factor in this field of work. Synchronism of the heart and mind plays a huge role as you have to have the true passion that comes from deep down for nature and wildlife. The basic principles of conservation ethics are imperative and should be naturally inherent if one wants to pursue this career of field ranging with success. Many rangers such as Sgt. Lucky Ndlovu, who works in the Kruger National Park and whose life is based on the protection of the natural environment, has a deep bond with nature that runs deep through his bloodline. We realized, it takes a special person to do this. It is not just a job.
Every day had its own set of challenges that we had to overcome. In the beginning getting up before the whistle was difficult and to be honest a bit of a swearing match. Now the whistle isn’t needed anymore. Our frowns quickly changed to looks of determination. By being together and building morale, all the negativity was stripped off. This is often one of the biggest lessons learnt when building and working successfully in a team. It is possible to change the way we see ourselves and the way we do things or address things. Discipline, hard work and commitment is required if one wants to perform successfully in the field.
In the classroom, we were blessed with incredible facilitators and trainers, Corp. John Makgoka and Corp. Gert Dibakoane whose personal knowledge and experiences in this field were brought to the table. Here we were able to reap the benefits of first hand learning from someone who knew what we were going through, and what we needed if we were going to be successful. This was an incredible and truly lucky experience for all of us. Sgt Excelent Macabe, you were also very much that of an incredible father figure and role model for every single one of us. You gave us your best and didn’t take or accept anything of us that wasn’t our best. Thank you!
We all agree that drill, which continued throughout the course, although hard at the beginning, was a very necessary activity for all of us to partake in as this is where we learned a lot of our discipline, for this we thank you. From inspection times and the limitation of time to do various activities such as our two minutes showers, developed the skill of time management, which is an essential part of being a ranger. There is simply no time to waste.
With regards to the kitchen and our nutrition, we want to say thank you very much to the staff for every meal they made for us. Every meal was made with heart and soul and I am sure we will miss those meals when we are deployed. We want to give a special thank you to mama Lidia and sister Theo for the preparation of these delicious meals and more importantly thank them for their words of encouragement based on the Word of God, in the Lapa every Sunday. These were truly uplifting times and a way of finding motivation after a stressful week of training.