Commercial poaching is a critical threat to elephant and rhino populations across sub-Saharan Africa. Many local law enforcement agencies lack the specialist skills to tackle it effectively. To fill the gap, this project provided some of the necessary training to wildlife rangers from 15 protected areas across seven countries.
The training covered interception tracking skills, information gathering and analysis, and the development of an information network. In total, 140 rangers were trained in basic tracking, with 101 progressing to intermediate level. Of these, 41 qualified at advanced level so they can lead anti-poaching operations and even help train their colleagues. Meanwhile, 16 information officers from six protected areas received expert training in information gathering and analysis.
Tusk led this project, working closely with African Parks. Our activities have contributed towards the effective prevention of poaching in Malawi’s Liwonde National Park, down from an average of eight elephant and one rhino per month. In South Africa’s Kruger National Park an unprecedented 48 poacher arrests were made in the month immediately after the training. The UK Ministry of Defence has replicated much of the training and has deployed British soldiers to support anti-poaching operations.
Effective enforcement is only possible with properly-trained staff. We need to provide African wildlife rangers with the skills necessary to combat large scale poaching. We have made a great start, but we must build on it to end the slaughter of elephant and rhino.