United for Wildlife provides funding for Ranger training
United for Wildlife has announced it is partnering with the Southern African Wildlife College in the fight against poaching and illegal wildlife trade. The collaboration will provide significant funding to help train rangers protecting Southern Africa’s endangered species.
Prince Harry, who is an Ambassador for United for Wildlife, spoke about the partnership during a visit to the Southern African Wildlife College just outside Kruger National Park today.
Speaking to recent graduates of a ranger training programme together with current trainees, Prince Harry said: “You are part of a profession I hold in huge esteem that is dealing with very difficult circumstances.”
He continued: “In addition to stronger laws and global action, we need to do more to help those on the front line of the conservation battle. I am delighted to announce today that my brother’s United for Wildlife partnership will work with, and fund, the Southern African Wildlife College so that its graduates are equipped with the best techniques and technologies available to protect some of the world’s endangered species.”
United for Wildlife’s funding will support the Southern African Wildlife College to build on its existing needs-based training to include Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tools (SMART) and additional support to the Community Based Natural Resources Management work. This will in turn enable the College to build existing staff capacity and engage new trainers, whilst also supporting Protected Area Managers across the SADC region.
Specialist skills training will help ensure that field rangers are provided with the necessary skills have to handle the increasingly sophisticated methods that poaching gangs are using to peddle the illegal trade in rhino horn and ivory.
SMART technology (including satellites, ground sensors and GPS trackers) is a key tool for the rangers, as it enables them to monitor protected sites more efficiently. It also helps streamline their response to the poachers by quickly collecting and analysing data on the ground.
The numbers of rhino poached in South Africa has grown by nearly 500% in just five years, with most of these occurring in the Greater Kruger National Park. Already this year, 1,500 rhino have been killed in this country, according to South African National Parks. During his visit to the Southern African Wildlife College, Prince Harry highlighted how rangers are using their specialised skills to deal with the alarming number of incidents, and how intelligence and evidence is gathered to secure convictions or prevent further incidents.
“The Southern African Wildlife College has increased its field ranger training capability to include specialist anti poaching skills which are further supported by our aerial patrols and ground to air patrol training as well as a newly established canine anti poaching capability. We are extremely proud to have been selected as a partner by United for Wildlife in the fight against poaching which is further supported SMART and the involvement of local communities,” said the College CEO, Theresa Sowry.
Naomi Doak, Project Director for United for Wildlife added, “We are delighted to be able to draw attention to the human side of the illegal wildlife trade and support not only those who are at the front line in the protection of some of the worlds’ most iconic species but also the local communities in these areas. Ensuring those on the ground have the skills and experience necessary is key to ensuring the conservation of these species.”