By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Summers Jr. September 9, 2016
Tanzania Rangers held a demonstration day to show off their newly acquired skills after training with soldiers from the U.S. Army North Carolina National Guard and 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion August 24, 2016, at Rungwa Game Reserve, Tanzania.
The demonstration was held to illustrate the skills park and game reserve rangers have acquired during two-months of training with the soldiers, in an effort to reduce the amount of animals poached throughout the country.
"We are here in Rungwa Game Reserve purposely because of the training by [the] U.S. embassy and American Army," said Moses Munya, the reserve's senior warden. "This training was based in field crafts, exercises and field techniques. Medication, for example: we learned how to treat a casualty that may have been injured by a buffalo or poacher."
Medical training was just one of several skills that the rangers showcased during the demonstration. They also exhibited techniques in small unit tactics, intelligence gathering and observation, and apprehension of suspected poachers.
"We are [here] to build host nation capacities to train the Rungwa Game Reserve rangers in order to build their capability to patrol and protect the reserve," said Sgt. Patrick Dahm, 403rd CA BN team member. "I think the rangers were ready and eager to learn and they are excited to put the things that they learned into practice. "
The training and demonstration was initiated by the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania as part of a plan to stop the rapid decline of elephants hunted in the park and game reserves by poachers. Poachers are not only decimating the numbers of elephants and threatening their future survival, but according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, ivory is often poached by violent extremist organizations, who barter it for weapons and ammunition.
"The Tanzania Rangers and U.S. Army have gotten together to do this training and to keep these stations operating, and that's how big this problem is," said Mark Childress, U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania. "It requires a coalition of partners, and that's what you see here."
The elephant population has declined to less than 44,000, nearly half the number from 10 years ago. While the poachers' targets are typically the elephant, rangers who try to stop them sometimes end up in the poachers' crosshairs.
"We really need to make sure that we provide quality training so you can deal with the poachers who are also learning [new techniques]," said Tanzania Maj. Gen. Gaudence Milanzi, Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism permanent secretary. "The days are gone when you would meet a poacher and the moment he sees you and he starts running," Milanzi added. "[These types] of poachers will definitely want to test you, that's why I say that this training is very important and that we would really want to extend our appreciation."
Hilda Adam, Rungwa Game Reserve game warden three, said that while the course was difficult, they did their best and made it through.
"[The training] increased my confidence because I learned the difficult skills like intelligence gathering, first aid and terrain models," Adam said. "I am proud to be an anti-poacher because I can conserve natural resources for the present and future generations."
Munya agreed that the training boasted his confidence and that he would like for the training to continue.
The current plan is for the training to take place over three years in Tanzania.
"I think some of the goals are to continue to have units cycle through the game reserve and continue to train the rangers," Dahm said. "I think that some of the expectations are that we continue to see the same rangers attending these training[s] and building on the things they learned."
After the demonstration, the rangers were thanked for their service and dedication to the training, but Hilda says she does it for one reason.
"I love the wildlife conservation and the natural resources," she said. "I love it, so I am here to protect and combat against poachers. That's why I am here."