Intensive anti-poaching training
News – 30.11.2022
The Corona pandemic and the lack of income from tourism has further aggravated the problem of poaching in southern Africa. Thus, it quickly became clear that the SAVE Lions team in Botswana needed to step up its efforts to address the problem.
The Lion Rangers received support from one of the most experienced and renowned wildlife conservationists. Mpho Lebelo, nicknamed “Poster,” is a passionate campaigner for rhino conservation and has been recognized for his tireless efforts in monitoring wild rhinos in northern Botswana over the past 15 years. Poster has been instrumental in the success of Wilderness Safaris’ Rhino Conservation Project, which has restored viable breeding populations of white and black rhino in the Moremi Game Reserve.
So the SAVE Lion Rangers couldn’t have asked for a better trainer for the anti-poaching training. Poster taught the lion conservationists how to curb poaching in various modules.
The theoretical part was about the importance of anti-poaching for species conservation. This was followed by the physically very strenuous, almost military training in the bush: the rangers practiced survival techniques in encounters with poachers – always a risky and life-threatening affair. This was followed by units on orientation by GPS in the bush and tracking animals. The training was mentally and physically challenging for all participants, but they were in good hands: “I have so much knowledge about the bush, I’m doing this to teach you skills and share my experience,” Poster um kept motivating the team.
The anti-poaching training took place in Quqao village, the site on the edge of the Okavango Delta where SAVE partnered with Pro Wildlife to launch the SAVE LIONS – Living with Lions project.
Another module focused on a very central element in wildlife conservation: spreading the important message of how abundant wildlife populations are vital to the future of communities. Poster taught participants communication techniques on how rangers can most effectively present the issue to their families and at village meetings. Speaking in public was something most were not used to. Positive word choice, maintaining eye contact, confidence are important steps to carry others along, Poster conveyed.
In the future, the Lion Rangers will use these newly acquired skills to inspire young people in the region’s SAVE environmental education clubs. A first session is already planned for December.
But first, the participants will sensitize their families to the devastating consequences of poaching for species conservation. They plan to spread the word about the important issue at village meetings. One of their main arguments:
Wildlife abundance is the most precious asset of the region on the edge of the Okavango Delta. Protecting wildlife will bring tourism revenue to the communities and secure the villagers’ livelihoods in the long term.