This article gives an insight into the challenges faced by people trained in law enforcement but, who like in any other job, are expected to complete a myriad of administrative tasks as well. The stakes in this case are just that much higher…

The time supposed to be spent in the field as a Ranger should exceed 75% of his working life and it should be spent with Field Rangers.  This is how poaching is stopped.  Feet on the ground and area coverage.  This is how the poachers are placed on the back foot and how they are expelled from Protected Areas where they are illegally entering and killing our wildlife.  The possibility of doing it from an office, in-between reports, is unfortunately zero.

The need to deploy has however been replaced by the need to report. Rangers become office bound as funding is not available to appoint administrative staff to take the administration policies and procedures and run with them.  Rangers in turn are not trained as administrators and therefore take double the time to complete a report that a person trained for the job could do in a snap…

So how do we juggle these demands to ensure the people that belong on the frontline, are on the frontline?  We ask our Rangers to spend time, a lot of time, outside work related time, to get all facets of the job done.  A Ranger will put in hundreds of extra hours in a year to cover all the bases; ensuring that they remain focussed on operations but also carry out the responsibilities that go with the job. This not only allows them to retain the job but ultimately allows them to continue doing the valuable work that they are trained to do on the frontline.

That is why they rate up there when people ask, “What job takes the most, but gives more?”  A Ranger’s job takes a huge amount, but one success in the field gives more in a second than others do in a lifetime.

Food for thought indeed when one looks at the many field rangers across Africa who live under tough conditions, sometimes without the necessary support or equipment, but continue to act as shield between the poacher and our precious wildlife.

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