The perilous 1,000-mile journey to save Africa’s endangered black rhinos
28 October 2022
On 9 December 2013 the passing out parade for Limpopo National Park’s special anti-poaching unit of 30 expressly trained field rangers was held at the park’s Aguia Pesqueira (Fish Eagle) camp.
The 12-week training was undertaken at the park’s new field ranger and training base in Mapai and was supported by the Southern African Wildlife College, which has extensive field ranger training experience across southern Africa. The training programme was adopted by the Game Rangers Training Coordination Group as the standard adopted across Africa, thereby ensuring that the park’s field rangers are at the forefront of the best regional anti-poaching techniques. The training was also supported by selected senior park field rangers and the Mozambican police who were commissioned to conduct the rifle skills training.
Following an application and interview process, 110 candidates were selected for the one-week field ranger pre-selection phase. Rigorous drills reduced this to a group of the best 40 candidates. These candidates then undertook a four-week basic training course, following which 30 field rangers were selected for a five-week tactical operations course, with the best six candidates being selected for the final phase of a two-week patrol leaders course.
These rangers will be deployed along the border with Kruger National Park to focus on the increasing rhino and elephant poaching threats facing the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. The unit will be supported by three newly procured landcruiser vehicles, rifles, radios and patrol equipment, all handed over as part of the passing out ceremony.
The parade featured drill, arms handling and operations demonstrations that were thoroughly enjoyed by a large crowd. During the presentations, the master of ceremonies, Mr Abel Nhalidede, acknowledged Nelson Mandela’s significant contribution towards the creation of the park, including his opening of the gate to let through the first elephants translocated from Kruger National Park on 4 October 2001.
The keynote address was given by Ms Maria Emilia from Gaza Province’s Ministry of Tourism. She acknowledged the increasing wildlife crime challenges faced by the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and the important role that Limpopo National Park, and in particular the new protection unit, had to play to meet these challenges. The new unit, which had it’s first anti-poaching success during a training exercise, was deployed in mid-December.
By Antony Alexander
Limpopo National Park
*Mozambique proclaimed Limpopo National Park on 27 November 2001 and requested Peace Parks Foundation’s assistance in overseeing its development as a Southern African Development Community approved project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Cooperation and Development through KfW, Agence Française de Développement, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit and the World Bank.