SUPPORTING FIELD RANGERS

In Zambia the protection of wildlife in all national parks and game management areas falls to either government employed rangers known as Wildlife Police Officers (WPOs) or Community Scouts (CS). WPOs are generally better trained and educated and often posted to National Parks away from their home areas. CS are employed through Community Resource Boards (CRB) and are normally local community members who are assigned to protect wildlife in the Game Management Area where they come from.

Throughout Zambia there is a shortage of WPOs to effectively police all Wildlife areas and it is this shortage of manpower that has often been the cause of high poaching and ineffective law enforcement.

Providing Opportunities

In 2014 late 2014 CLT decided that the best way to address the critical shortage of manpower for law enforcement in Nsumbu National Park and Tondwa GMA was to conduct a recruitment drive from the local communities. Community Scouts also known as Village Scouts in Zambia. Generally these scouts are employed through CRBs although more and more private organisations are doing the same in conjunction with CRBs in order to boost manpower.

Village scouts provide a career path for young men and women in natural resources in many areas where there are few other opportunities and CLT felt this was the correct path to ensure the communities surrounding Nsumbu NP are involved in its management.

The Thin Green Line Foundation has been the primary supporter of our Community Scout program in addition to supporting housing renovations for scouts in Nsumbu, field equipment for all scouts operating in Nsumbu and surrounds and has committed to ongoing support through training and other areas. CLT is proud to be supported by an organisation that directly supports the men and women in the field protecting wildlife and wild places.

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Some 100 written applications were received and shortlisted to 30 potential candidates who then underwent an intensive in field selection course conducted by a Senior ZAWA field instructor.

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A rigorous 10 day selection process ensured the 10 strongest candidates were selected.

After 10 days in the field assessing candidates physical fitness and mental capabilities the 10 strongest candidates were selected for further training.

These 10 candidates were enrolled at Nyamaluma Wildlife Training Course for 90 days as is mandatory for all wildlife officers in Zambia. After 3 months intensive training in the Luangwa Valley in the use of field tactics, fitness, firearms, wildlife law and other relevant subjects all 10 candidates graduated with flying colors, testament to the selection process.

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Graduation day at Nyamaluma in Luangwa valley, Jan 20

By March 2015 all 10 candidates were formally employed by CLT in conjunction with the Nsama CRB and began field anti poaching operations.

As part of the project all 22 scouts operating in Nsumbu were issued with full patrol kits to help them conduct their duties efficiently and safely.

The new Village Scout Unit ready for field deployment for anti poaching operations in Nsumbu National Park

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CLT has committed to ensuring that our support extends to as many rangers as possible in the greater Nsumbu area. Both WPOs and VS are the daily front line against an onslaught of illegal activities and their dedication and we recognize the difficulties they face in the field and backlash in communities. The scouts of Nsumbu spend an average of 20 days out of every month in the field on anti poaching patrols of either 10 or 5 day rotation.

Conservation Lake Tanganyika shows our support of scouts by:

  • providing uniforms and field equipment to all scouts in the field
  • providing direct employment to  a minimum of 10 Community Scouts
  • Providing incentives through a bonus system on performance to individual scouts
  • Ongoing training and career development to select scouts
  • Providing adequate food and non food rations to all anti poaching patrols
  • Celebrating World Ranger Day on July 31st annually and including all scouts
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