River rangers cast a line for anti-poaching success

River rangers recently braved a massive expanse of water, crocodiles and hippos in their training in the Limpopo National Park adjacent to the Kruger National Park.

MASSINGIR – Poacher alert! PAMS Foundation is bringing its anti-poaching expertise to the Olifants River and the waters of the Massingir Dam.

Massingir Dam (Google Earth)

The eight river rangers trained in March and April by PAMS under the leadership of Mr Terrie Chakanyuka, made a difference during their boat and waterborne anti-poaching operations and confiscated a number of illegal nets and boats on the southern side of the Limpopo National Park (LNP).

The park is managed by the National Administration of Conservation Areas of Mozambique and shares a partly open border on its western side with the Kruger National Park.

SEE why the head of Kruger National Park is in favour of border fences shifting

The LNP is home to populations of hippos, elephants, buffaloes, fish and crocodiles as well as other species.

“They have access to areas that rangers did not before and will be of strategic help to the teams on land, ” said Mr Wayne Lotter, director of the PAMS Foundation.

Wayne Lotter of PAMS Foundation. PAMS has been successful in reducing poaching figures in Tanzania. This includes work done with the Ruvuma Elephant Project in an area bordering Mozambique. The overall results achieved from project patrols, aerial surveillance, rapid-response operations and other law-enforcement activities since its inception, included the seizure of more than 300 tusks, more than a 100 firearms and the arrest of close to 900 people.

Lotter explained that even the most rugged of rangers was at first a bit cautious, but soon they were achieving a great deal as a team and their confidence grew.

“After a good stint of training the rangers had to lead boat patrols and operations on the river. They were selected from different ranger posts within the park,” he pointed out.

READ about ex-KNP ranger tackling anti-poaching the unconventional way.

The programme included the mastering of basic boat manoeuvres. They were also taught how to make an arrest on water, completed a course in first aid and are able to execute ambushes and raids on water.

The rangers had to work in teams and some had to undergo swimming lessons. They learned about flotation, water safety, waves and currents. They were taught how to maintain the boat, engine and life jackets.

“They are well equipped with essential skills and tools to track poachers on land and on water, and to monitor evidence on the water,” said Lotter.

  AUTHOR
Elize Parker
Environmental Journalist Lowvelder

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