African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) train wildlife officials in anti-poaching skills

– These trainings have continued to recognise the importance and capabilities of the girl child for gender balance and equality, a wildlife official said.

John Cassim

HARARE, ZIMBABWE – At least 15 trainees drawn from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) and the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), have graduated in anti-poaching skills on wildlife conservation.

The graduation comes following an intense three-week advanced coxswain course and another seven-week training in 2021, which equipped trainees with critical knowledge and skills on wildlife conservation.

Focus was on anti-poaching and law enforcement activities within marine or water-based environments and the trainees graduated with class 1 and class 2 Launch-Master certificates.

The 15 graduated on the 21st of April at a ceremony held at Moth Camp in Kariba through support from AWF in partnership with the Zimparks and the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Boat Squadron Regiment.

The training was funded by the European Union (EU) under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (CITES MIKE) project.

The training covered handling of suspects, observing human rights in anti-poaching work, first aid, physical training, weapon handling, embarking and disembarking water vessels, ecology, routine ambush and raiding patrols, boat operations, and other relevant modules to improve river patrols.

Zimparks coxswains will be deployed in Lake Kariba, Hurungwe Safari Area, Chewore Safari Area, and Dande Safari Area to foster the biodiversity conservation mandate.

Out of the 15 graduates, 12 (including two women) came from Zimparks while three were from ZNA.

Rosemary Kateguru, a ranger operating from the Zambezi River Specialized Anti-Poaching Unit (ZARSAU) scooped an accolade as one of the best Advanced Coxswain trainees.

In December 2021, Kateguru, who hails from the Doma community, became the first Class 1 holder of the Launch-Master Coxswain certificate, which allows her to operate big boats in Zimbabwe.

“These trainings have continued to recognise the importance and capabilities of the girl child as we continue to value the need for gender balance and equality.

I applaud women for continuing to defy the odds and for showing that female rangers can even outcompete their male counterparts by participating in more risky tasks such as operating in turbulent waters of Lake Kariba and other water bodies,” said Zimparks Director of Operations Arthur Musakwa, who addressed the pass out parade on behalf of Zimparks Director General Dr. Fulton Mangwanya.

He underscored the importance of support rendered by AWF in setting up ZARSAU, a water based anti-poaching specialized unit operating from below the Kariba Dam Wall to Kanyemba.

He said, “This unit has become a vanguard for the conservation of the aquatic as well as terrestrial resources in the landscape as they have forged collaborative links with our Zambian counterparts. This support has continued to improve the efficiency of law enforcement and has also brought about desired conservation outcomes.”

 “I am very happy with the thorough and rigorous advanced coxswain training that the rangers completed. These efforts will further strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of Zimparks rangers, particularly for rangers who conduct anti-poaching river and land patrols within the Mid-Zambezi Valley landscape.

With these advanced skills, Zimparks rangers will be instrumental in conducting local as well as transboundary patrols and can contribute significantly to species protection and reducing illegal wildlife trade and trafficking,” AWF Zimbabwe Country Director Olivia Mufute noted.

Olivia Mufute, African Wildlife Foundation, Zimbabwe Country Director explains what her organisation is doing in the mid-Zambezi to combat poaching.

Thomas Zhou, a 25-year-old ranger operating from Chewore North in Kapirinhengu area in the Mid-Zambezi Valley landscape won the best student award.

The training, which includes courses on court procedures and digital wildlife monitoring, has helped to strengthen local and transboundary anti-poaching patrol effectiveness in the Mid-Zambezi Valley as shown by a number of joint cross border patrols done by Zimbabwe and Zambia law enforcement agents.

The training of rangers on river anti-poaching patrols is in line with AWF Zimbabwe’s 10-year Conservation Strategy (2020-2030) which spells out the need to conserve Zimbabwe’s wildlife, reduce poaching and trafficking through supporting wildlife monitoring and protection systems.

ZimParks Regional Manager for Zambezi, Felix Chimeramombe speaks of the benefits of the partnership ZimParks have with African Wildlife Foundation (AWF).

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