| Jan 11, 2024
Wildlife Rangers - January Update
Ranger - Save The Rhino Trust
Thank you for your continued support of rangers on the frontline of conservation across Africa and Asia. In this update we highlight the incredible work done by DSWF-supported rangers in India, Namibia, and Zambia.
The two latest additions to the K9 unit team, Nova and Harley, are now fully trained and certified K9 Units deployed in the field to bolster ranger teams and help track poachers and gather evidence of wildlife crimes. Rangers have covered over 2,000km2 in patrols across both rhino and tiger bearing areas. 18 suspects were arrested across Assam for wildlife crimes, and 11 weapons (along with ammunition) were confiscated to prevent further harm to wildlife. The ground team collected information leading to the prevention of rhino poaching and other wildlife offences and the arrest of culprits, including those involved in killing a rhino. All the suspects have been arrested by police based on information gathered from the field.
Over the past six months, our partners in Namibia have continued with core rhino monitoring work and maintaining high levels of patrol effort across the Kunene range encompassing 25,000km2 of protected area. As a result of this intense effort no poaching has been reported for an impressive 38 months. This is a milestone worth celebrating and is due to the constant presence of boots on the ground directly enabled by DSWF’s funding which would not have been possible without your support. Our work in this fragile landscape not only ensures the safety of the rhino population but also serves as a safety measure for all other wildlife within patrol areas.
Our team have been working hard on the ongoing expansion of the rhino ranger programme and the re-introduction of the species in the Nyae Nyae landscape. A new vehicle has been procured and an experienced ranger team deployed, adding an additional 4,000km2 of protected area. The new team is led and mentored by a driver and a tracker from the Kunene landscape with vast experience. Marrying this new team to a strategy based on the success in Kunene, we expect strong results in this new landscape over the coming years.
The ability to maintain continuous field presence and always ensuring there are boots on the ground, is fundamental to rhino protection. The cost-of-living crisis presents an ongoing challenge with the price of basic commodities continuing to rise in tandem with fuel costs in Namibia. Compared to 18 months ago, the fuel price in Namibia has increased by 80%, making patrols vastly more expensive to run. Ongoing funding from DSWF is vital to ensuring ranger patrols continue. If patrols were to decrease, a sharp rise in poaching would be inevitable.
Over the past six months, the Special Anti-Poaching Unit (SAPU) have been patrolling in and around the elephant orphan release area within Kafue National Park. Covering over 11,000km2 the team have apprehended poachers both through intelligence-based strike operations, and through ground holding patrols. Thanks to DSWF funding, the team were supported in conducting a total of 1,850 ranger patrol days, with results including 22 apprehensions, 11 illegal firearms, and 363 kg of illegal bushmeat confiscated. In addition to tackling active poaching, operations by SAPU in and around the release area have also served to act as a deterrent for would-be-poachers by increasing the perception of risk. Ongoing support of the Aerial Support Unit is also proving beneficial. Aerial surveillance over and around the release area is vastly increasing the team’s ability to provide a secure environment for the release elephants, wild elephants, and other key species. The unit has continued to build its network of informers around the release area, with most of its operational results during the period were achieved through this source of intelligence.
During the period, the provision of equipment such as ranger first aid kits and winter jackets were allocated alongside assistance to the team through the SMART programme, which aids with patrol logistics and tracks wildlife monitoring and wildlife related crimes. In addition, logistical support was given for the provision of vehicles, fuel, and rations for daily operations. Ranger welfare was supported during the period through the provision of medicines and medical transport where required. A selection of rangers from SAPU participated in LEAD ranger training, a three-week long course that not only trained the rangers in combat first aid, but also included an instructors’ package enabling them to pass on their first aid knowledge to others. The remaining rangers in SAPU then received first aid training from Veterans 4 Wildlife, combining first aid theory and practical workshops.
Thank you for your ongoing support which is enabling us to keep boots on the ground protecting endangered species.
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K9 Unit - Credit Matt Armstrong-Ford