Southern African Wildlife College

Protected Area Integrity (Field Ranger Training)

Since its inception, and given the needs of the conservation industry, the Southern African Wildlife has conducted field ranger training across the African region. In line with its ethos to bring in specialist trainers to ensure students receive the most relevant and up-to-date training available, much of this training was outsourced to training partner, African Field Ranger Training Services (AFRTS) recognised as one of the most experienced and leading field ranger training outfits in Africa. This training included basic, un-armed, armed and special skills: anti-poaching training both on and off-site. 

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In effect, this now means that the College has its own dedicated Field Ranger Training Unit run by Ruben de Kock, who with his experienced team brings over 23 years of Field Ranger training experience to the College. This unit addresses training needs across the region, builds Field Ranger capacity and helps to address the threat of poaching. AFRTS' involvement with the Kruger National Park Field Ranger training over the past 17 years has also added an important component to the skills development process given the fact that this training has evolved into different courses and training interventions for the Kruger National Park over time. Having placed a lot of emphasis on outcomes-based training, the students leave the College with a broad range of high level practical skills including conservation ethics, bush craft, monitoring, tracking, gathering of evidence, arrest procedures and firearm skills.

In expanding AFRTS's scope of training, several advanced Field Ranger courses, adaptable to Rapid Response Team type training, have been run for clients like the North West Parks Board and Tourism Agency and the Kruger National Park. A Clandestine Operators course as well as a Tactical Operations course has also now been developed. To this end, in 2013 the College was appointed by the Kruger National Park as the in-house provider of all ant-poaching training.

In bolstering what is now an in-house offering, the Southern African WildlifeCollege has also been asked by the International Rangers Federation to take the lead in developing training material in consultation with various experts to standardise and professionalize ranger training across the region. This is particularly relevant given the current Rhino poaching onslaught in South Africa and the growing elephant poaching crisis in the rest of Africa. Complimenting this is the Bathawk and K-9 Unit Projects, which conduct aerial patrols to monitor wildlife populations and assist in rhino anti-poaching efforts in the Greater Kruger area. Field rangers, which can be better deployed, are then also trained in ground to air patrol techniques.

Training courses presented by African Field Ranger Training Services Division:

Field Ranger Selection Course (7 days)

The Field Ranger selection process is inextricably linked to the Field Ranger training course for the latter to be productive and cost efficient. Proper selection ensures that those students entering the Field Ranger training course are of the right caliber and that the time, effort and finances expended in training them is not wasted. 

Apart from the greater productivity and cost effectiveness achieved with the training course, selection ensures that high standards are attained and that a consistent minimum standard is achieved.  
The selection course runs for 7 consecutive days. Aimed at selecting candidates for Field Ranger training the course comprises: 
• Physical selection 
• Casualty evacuation (Casevac) simulation 
• Individual Monitoring - Learners are monitored throughout and reported on individually. A recommendation with regard to employability/suitability is based on daily reporting of observations made during the process.

AFRTS was also instrumental in supporting the College's Wildlife Guardian Programme aimed at helping curb the current rhino poaching crisis in South Africa. Given the scope and depth of field ranger training provided by the College, and for which AFRTS were being contracted, the College and AFRTS recently entered into a business agreement whereby the College has acquired AFRTS. In terms of this acquisition, the College has strengthened its capacity and has expanded its scope of training to a wider client base whilst also ensuring the long-term financial sustainability of the College.

Basic Field Ranger Course (6 weeks)

After the selection process successful candidates will undergo basic Field Ranger training. The skills and knowledge gained in this course are the fundamental skills that all Field Rangers need in order to effectively perform their duties. Those learners who show they too have leadership skills may qualify for further leadership training should it be required by their organisation. 
The course is the accredited Skills Program: Field Ranger Law Enforcement (Armed or Unarmed) Aimed at training Field Rangers the course comprises: 
• Drill and discipline 
• Duties and responsibilities 
• Conservation philosophy 
• Patrols 
• Law enforcement 
• Communications 
• Tracking 
• Use of rifle 
• First aid 
• Night operations 
• Observation posts 
• Ambushes 
• Extended patrols 
• Crime Scene Control 
• Learner's ability to demonstrate an understanding of HIV/AIDS and its implications Learners are reported on individually and rated in terms of competency.

Patrol Leaders Course (2 weeks)

The leader group, in addition to receiving instruction in ecological concepts, community involvement, and anti-poaching techniques, will receive training in field leadership and instructional skills. The leader group training is conducted by the AFRTS trainers and will take two weeks. 
Aimed at training patrol leaders - instructors to plan and conduct patrols in a protected area - the course comprises: 
• Field orders 
• Field leadership 
• Planning patrols 
• Patrol preparation 
• Information gathering and dissemination 
• Basic conflict resolution • Learners are reported on individually and rated in terms of competency.

Protected Security Operations Planning Course (2 weeks)

This course addresses the need for anti-poaching strategies to become proactive rather than remain reactive. This training is aimed at empowering managers of small-protected areas or bigger nature reserves or sections rangers to design and develop a protected areas security operations plan. 
Aimed at Protected Area managers/section rangers (Planning level) the course comprises: 
• 8 Step counter poaching model 
• Planning of operations 
• Field intelligence 
• Community involvement in planning 
• Training and employment of Field Rangers 
• Labour Law introduction 
• Investigations 
• Leadership

Specialised Courses (length of course is based on training requirements)

These courses are custom designed for those organisations that have specific problems that need to be addressed. These courses will augment prior training in terms of area specific threats and operations. 
Aimed at qualified Field Rangers trained on-site these courses include: 
• Extended clandestine patrols 
• Observation Posts / Listening Posts 
• Tactical Movement 
• Field and contact Tactics 
• Advanced weapon handling 
• Night operations

In-Service training courses (approximately 7 days)

Follow up is a vital part of any training. This course is like a diagnostic assessment to ensure that those who have undergone previous training are still up to the standard required to perform their duties effectively. It is recommended that in service training be conducted once or twice a year. 
The course is aimed at those individuals who have completed their basic Field Ranger course. The course will cover all spheres of training that was undertaken during the basic Field Ranger course.

Re-training courses (approximately 1 week)

Rangers need to be retrained. This course will retrain Field Rangers already trained at the basic level by AFRTS or can augment training previously done. This is basically a compacted repeat of the basic Field Ranger training to get performance up to the required standards of competency. 

Re-training courses are flexible and they can involve a handful of individuals or they can be undertaken at the same time as a greater intake of new Field Rangers. The training to be conducted will be Para-Military and includes all skills necessary to empower Field Rangers in any protected area in order to ensure the correct application as a Field Ranger. 

The training presented is accredited by CATHSSETA and includes the Skills Program:  
• Field Ranger (Armed) - NQF 2, 201 FRA, CONS/FIERANGPROTAREA/2/0050 
• Field Ranger (Unarmed) - NQF 2, 202 FRU

Projects implemented by AFRTS

• Training Field Rangers and Special deployment teams in Burma 
• Training of Clandestine Operators in Gorongosa Mozambique 
• Training of Field Rangers in Tanzania (TANAPA) 
• Training and securing employment for 257 unemployed people as part of the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund project. 

Ruben de Kock
Protected Area Integrity (AFRTS) :: Business Unit Manager
+27 (0)15 793-7349
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