This quarter has seen some outstanding achievements by the Head of the Protected Area Integrity department, Mr Altin Gysman and well as recognition for the training conducted by our instructors and trainers within the unit.
Firstly, Altin Gysman, was invited to attend the United for Wildlife Global Summit in London. It was an incredible honour for him to attend and address those who were there about the realities of being a field ranger and the risks they face every day.
Other achievements by our staff included Mr Walker Oupa John Makgoka for being awarded a Certificate of Appreciation in Mozambique for his training delivery on the Advanced Field Ranger training course. Mr Makgoka and Sergaent Gert Dibakoane also received an award from the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency for their dedication and hard work.
Well done to you all for flying the College flag high, we could not be prouder!
FIELD RANGER TRAINING ACTIVITIES
The following field ranging training activities took place over the last quarter, both on and off campus. A five-week Unarmed Field Ranger Training course ran from 15 August to 16 September at Thomas Baines Reserve in the Eastern Cape. The course was requested by the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) and 45 rangers were successfully trained.
In the Kruger National Park we conducted a retraining course for current field rangers which took place from 07 August to 11 September. This covered all the basics of field ranging which should already be known to the students but may need to be practiced or re-enforced in order to be more effective in the field. We are pleased to report that 126 rangers were retrained in this time.
At the SAWC we conducted five different courses on campus this quarter namely: Unarmed Field Ranger Training, where 14 rangers were trained; Tracker Dog Handling Training where one ranger was trained; Firearm Training, which three rangers completed; and Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Project, in which 40 rangers and senior managers completed the training.
Lastly, the Braveheart Training Course took place in the period 11 July to 26 August through which 28 Rangers have been trained so far. It is a fairly recent addition to the courses offered by the College and was developed in association with WWF South Africa, through its Khetha Programme, with the support of the International Development Agency (USAID).
The course develops skills in holistic leadership, conflict resolution, community engagement, negotiation and mediation, law enforcement ethics, and corruption mitigation. It’s affectionately known as Braveheart because it speaks to the ranger’s ethics, identity and emotional wellbeing, areas that purely tactical training may neglect.
More about the Braveheart Ranger Course
The first 2022 Braveheart Ranger Course, which was developed through WWF South Africa’s Khetha Programme, with the support of the International Development Agency (USAID), commenced on 06 June 2022.
The intention behind the creation of this course was to pay attention to what the basic training of rangers tends to lack from a holistic perspective. Although vital, tactical skills are not the only skills needed to do this job. Being a ranger is about so much more than carrying out law enforcement and being in good physical shape, it’s also about who our rangers’ emotional well-being – that is what Braveheart is all about. During the course time is also spent on building ethical resilience and integrity.
The course comprises seven modules, namely: Leadership, Conservation Ethics, Law Enforcement, Community Engagement, Technology, Communication, and Corruption. To date three Braveheart courses have been run this year. The students trained are from different organisations and areas namely: Kruger National Park, MTPA, GEF 6, Klaserie, Sabi Sands, Sabi Game Reserve and Zimbabwe.
Due to the diverse cultures and languages represented, we have had to translate information in class so that everyone can fully understand all the concepts presented. We use self-learning, visual education, peer learning and our resource centre to create a holistic learning experience.
We are optimistic that the Braveheart programme offering will continue well into the future, as it fulfils a vital, yet often missing component in ranger training. It is already clear that the impact we are having is making a difference to the lives of rangers that are on the frontline.