18 Feb A day in the life of a Wildlife Protection Hero
An anti-poaching or wildlife protection team consists of many aspects. There are various positions that all work together in different ways to protect the wildlife from outside intrusion. One of the most important aspects of an anti-poaching team is that the team is working together towards the same goal; the preservation and protection of our wildlife.
The difference between working on a smaller reserve compared to larger reserves and national parks is that being a smaller area, it is easier to identify high risk areas. On a larger reserve the possibility of covering the entire area is more challenging. With smaller areas, it makes it less complex to manage, whereas on a larger reserve funding for larger teams is often not always available. On a smaller reserve it is less complicated to delegate and design a strategy to cover all areas.
A day in a wildlife protection team can start anywhere from 4am and sometimes run late into the night. Anti-poaching rangers are always on standby, regardless of what time it is or what the weather might be doing.
Daily tasks involve different activities from priority animal monitoring, foot patrols, fence patrols, as well as observation posts in potential high risk areas on the reserve. One of the obstacles encountered is poaching with the use of dogs and snares on the fence line. This is combatted with constant monitoring as a team. The most critical time of any month is known as full moon. During this period, it is critical to have 24 hour foot patrols happening as well as vehicle patrols along fence lines to ensure the safety of the reserve and wildlife.
The types of training an anti-poaching team will be subject to involves tracking, spoor identification and bush crafts training. Firearm training is an important aspect of working as an anti-poaching ranger and is something that needs practice on a regular basis.
However, as much as you learn from the books and training exercises, many important lessons come from experience and learning how to deal with stressful situations by remaining clam and clear headed.
Learning about tracking and animal movements, and learning about how we protect and why we protect the animals that we do, is paramount.
The most challenging part of being an anti-poaching ranger is keeping the wildlife safe, regardless of whether it is general game or priority species. One of the best aspects of being an anti-poaching ranger is making a difference and protecting animals who can’t always protect themselves against the constant threat of poaching.
As a guest, there are a few things one can do:
- Rhinos face a constant poaching threat and guests can help by avoiding posting any photographs on social media.
- Another big target of poaching is the exotic pet market; by avoiding buying these animals, the demand will decrease for the animals.
- Reporting any suspicious behaviour seen or heard about, this all helps in the fight against poaching.
- Donate to the wildlife fund that goes directly to aiding the conservation of wildlife.
Next time you have the opportunity of being on safari in our reserve, keep in mind the team that work hard to protect these beautiful creatures for you to appreciate.