Protected Area Integrity Department  Update – March 2023

It is with great pleasure that we advise that the Protected Area Integrity Department’s African Field Ranger Training Services Unit has had a particularly good first-quarter not only with our training, but we were also invited to attend both the United for Wildlife Conference and the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA) Annual General Meeting (AGM). 

The illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is organised crime on a global scale, devastating wildlife and pushing some of the world’s most iconic species towards extinction. United for Wildlife was founded by Prince William and The Royal Foundation in 2014 to protect endangered species from the abhorrent illegal wildlife trade. This illegal trade is a major threat to global biodiversity and human health, and is linked to money laundering, corruption and extreme violence, as well as the trafficking of drugs and weapons.  

At its core, United for Wildlife fosters global collaboration in the private sector to stop the trafficking of wildlife products. It does this through two Taskforces: A Financial Taskforce and a Transport Taskforce. These Taskforces bring together some of the world’s largest businesses in the transport and financial sectors to break the chains of the illegal wildlife trade. 

By sharing knowledge and information across sectors and between countries, United for Wildlife is transforming illegal wildlife trade prevention and the prosecution of those who profit from these crimes. This unique collaborative approach has united international law enforcement agencies, non-governmental organisations, private and public sector, grassroots communities, and large corporations. 

As such the College was very privileged to again be part of these efforts via the SA summit for illegal wildlife trade prevention. The College was well-represented by our CEO, Theresa Sowry, and the Registrar, Ashwell Glasson, who witnessed how global role-players put their minds together to try and combat illegal wildlife trade. We also had the screening of the final version of the Rhino Man, a documentary produced by Matt Lindeburg and John Jurko II from Global Conservation Corps (GCC). 

During this past quarter, we were also fortunate to attend the GRAA (South African Chapter) AGM which was hosted by the College. During this conference, we showed our professionalism in Ranger Development and our interest in resilience and leadership. One of the main discussions, which Ashwell Glasson lead, was the way forward with regards to professionalisation of the Ranger Corps. Altin Gysman, representing the SAWC, was elected to the GRAA SA Chapter committee for the next two years which we are extremely proud of. Thank you to these two gentlemen for flying the College flag high. 

We have had one Pass Out Parade this year so far and as always it was a special, momentous occasion for all involved. Below are some pictures from the parade which captures the emotion and tells the story of the day. 

We express our gratitude to the Ball Family Foundation, Our Horn is Not Medicine donors and to the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) for their support which has enabled the training of community members as the guardians of our protected areas and iconic species such as rhino. We also thank Mr Rowan Ferreira of Nkombe Rhino for his continued contribution of donating caps and T-shirts for our Field Ranger courses.  

A big thank you must also go to GCC for their donation of 75 pairs of Jim Green boots for Ranger training via one of their donors, the Katie Adamson Conservation Fund. These boots will make a huge difference in the lives of these field ranges, but as GCC’s Matt Lindenberg said during the pass out parade, “The boots are a tool to enable you to do your job but what matters most is what is in your heart, being true to your cause, having integrity and being incorruptible.”  

Finally, on the training side, we have commenced with a GRAA-sponsored Braveheart Ranger leadership course steered by one of our instructors, Mr Brendon Persens. Our specialist instructors have also done a selection training session in Mozambique for AIP (Akashinga Project) by selecting female Rangers to undergo Field Ranger training.  

Overall, we are grateful for a successful first three months of 2023 and look forward to being able to share more exciting news in the next issue.