Banhine National Park, Biodiversity, Community, Conservation, Field Rangers, Great Limpopo TFCA, Limpopo National Park, Maputo Special Reserve, Mozambique, Partnerships, Wildlife Crime, Zinave National Park

Taking the LEAD to Save Lives

Imagine a medical first responder course, specifically designed for senior game rangers operating at the frontlines of conservation and the combat against poaching. These men and women are guided through reality-based training, tailored to the situation on the ground. They emerge as certified coaches empowered to instruct taskforces in their own protected areas, with access to training aids, online resources and long-term support. This is Coach Ranger Life Saver, a LEAD Ranger programme designed to raise medical training up through the ranks, enabling rangers to be better able to protect each other, and nature.

In September, Maputo National Park opened its gates as a training hub and meeting place for this powerful capacity-building course, coaching rangers from across Mozambique to be coaches themselves. Three rangers each from Banhine, Zinave, Limpopo and Maputo national parks – all co-managed by Peace Parks – took part in the 20-day course. They were also joined by representatives from other protected areas not partnered with Peace Parks but benefiting from the programme’s emphasis on diverse, widespread networking. Rangers learn best from other rangers, and this coming together allowed them to bond through shared experiences and stories.

LEAD Course Instructor Jackson Mutabazi tackles one of the course components with the class, teaching theory, demonstrating with medical kit and inviting students to imitate and practice. Group feedback and evaluation was key to discussing and refining skills and, outside of the classroom, the rangers bonded through sharing personal experiences and stories.

Amplifying Skills, Boosting Protection

Working closely with conservation organisations, as opposed to with individuals, LEAD Ranger specialises in this ‘amplifier’ model of maximising knowledge-sharing. Coach Ranger Life Saver has been a standard course for some years now in multiple African countries, where rangers working in remote, dynamic and demanding environments need to be able to access continuous professional development by their peers, in their own language and their own workspace. With a quarter of the country designated as conservation areas, Mozambique can benefit hugely from this exponential teaching reach, and expanded safety net.

A ranger’s job knows no bounds: they are guardians, trackers, dog-handlers and care givers; role models, mediators, students, teachers and leaders. But, by nature, their roles take them to some of the most isolated, conflicted and vulnerable landscapes where they are not only nature’s active protectors but also moving targets.

By nature, a ranger’s work takes them to the far-fetched frontlines of conservation, where threats include encounters with both poachers and wildlife. Zinave National Park’s exceptional ranger teams, fortified to recieve and safeguard recently reintroduced rhino herds, sent three senior team members to attend the course held in Maputo National Park. They joined representatives from Banhine, Limpopo and Maputo national parks as well as other protected areas across Mozambique.

Lives Lost in the Line of Duty

It is a harsh reality that rangers face many dangers in their daily work and on rough, tough ground, from dealing with criminal activity to encounters with potentially dangerous wildlife. Medical emergencies are low-occurrence, high-impact events that affect rangers, their organisation, their families and the community. The lion’s share – 88.6% – of rangers surveyed across Africa have faced a life-threatening situation and, in the last ten years, approximately 1,000 rangers have lost their lives in the line of duty worldwide. Although conclusive stats on ranger injuries and deaths are not yet available, preliminary data and anecdotal information indicates that 40-60% of these ranger deaths are preventable through immediate medical interventions. The opportunity to learn, treat and save, at scale, raises the capacity to roughly halve the devastation caused by loss of lives.

Recruits received comprehensive medical instruction, from tourniquet application to identifying and managing catastrophic bleeding in high-threat situations. Step-by-step practice, evaluation and feedback sessions were key to revising and reinforcing lessons learned.

Being a ranger is dangerous work. You have the rural and unpredictable nature of our parks, frequent encounters with dangerous wildlife, as well as the risks associated with the use of firearms in anti-poaching operations. This all makes it absolutely necessary to have proficiently trained first responders that are able to provide critical care as part of every group that goes out on patrol. Also essential to trust and team spirit is being able to foster the idea of caring for your fellow ranger while waiting for professional help in the event of an emergency.

Gavin Shaw, Head of Operations and Development in Maputo National Park
Graduates took part in a Passing Out Parade signifying their newly certified status as Ranger Life Saver coaches, ready to return to their protected areas to share their skills and support their teams.

The course culminated in a passing out parade: a well-deserved graduation ceremony to celebrate hard-earned certificates. The real impact of the LEAD Ranger programme is, however, not achieved when trainers graduate, but once they are training their peers.

LEAD Ranger develops wildlife crime enforcement leaders and instructors who remain based in the ecosystems they are protecting. The programme provides them with solutions of long-term support in the form of the lesson materials, mentoring and refresher courses. This ensures that they are up to date and can deliver their lessons with confidence once they’ve returned ‘home’ to work.

Jackson Mutabazi, LEAD Course Instructor for the Coach Ranger Life Saver course, Maputo National Park

Helping Rangers Reach 30 by 30

As we actively tackle a decade of urgent global conservation goals, securing and expanding protected areas has never been so crucial. But, as it stands, the proposed increases in coverage of protected areas to 30% of the planet by 2030 would require an increase of around 2000% in the number of rangers employed in Africa, if the IUCN’s guideline of ranger coverage by area were to be followed. The contribution of game-changing courses such as Coach Ranger Life Saver can help ensure that frontline conservation can be fortified and loss of life prevented, at scale. Peace Parks is proud and grateful to be a part of this joint initiative to invest in, support and protect people and #NatureWithoutBorders.

LEAD Ranger is a collaborative initiative with Akashinga in Zimbabwe, one of Africa’s pre-eminent all-women anti-poaching units, and Thin Green Line, a charity solely dedicated to supporting rangers and their families; these organisations are the two biggest funders of the programmes and LEAD’s Ranger Campus.


Herding For Health, Food For Life


Transforming Wildlife Monitoring and Protection

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