Combating Poaching and Illegal Logging in Tanzania: Voices of the Rangers-Hands-on Experiences from the Field


systematically. According to these law enforcement personnel, the thorough work of securing evidence from the field has proven vital in charging wildlife perpetrators in the judiciary system. Without solid proof the poachers often walk free without any punishment or penalty. Implementing the detailed techniques provided during the classes, gives both the wildlife officers and the courts a highly increased possibility to actually prove poachers guilty in a court of law.

The general feedback from the rangers attending the course is that all the topics contained features that have made anti- poaching efforts more effective. More formalized planning would help apply the techniques, and might in turn enable their use to be more formally evaluated. The emphasis in the training is on simple practical techniques that require as little theoretical input as possible, in order to be useful for illiterate as well as more academically trained personnel. Training often focuses on tactics to follow tracks safely. Given that many wildlife rangers are killed and injured by poachers, and on occasion the rangers walk into ambushes set by armed poachers, the Y-formation technique – which involves active use of flankers in the column to counter potential ambushes – has proven highly effective when it comes to security measures. 6 Using such simple but highly effective patrol formations when following tracks from suspected perpetrators provides an important advantage in apprehending poachers, armed or not. Discovering the poachers before they discover the rangers provides the latter with a tactical advantage and the training has directly resulted in the lives of rangers being saved from armed ambushes. According to anti-poaching law enforcement personnel, in 2013 wildlife rangers in Burigi Game Reserve tracked a poacher who crossed the border from Rwanda. The poacher was armed with a Belgian FN FAL calibre 7.62 rifle and started shooting at the rangers. A firefight ensued with the rangers, resulting in the poacher being killed. In Moyowosi Game Reserve and Kigosi Game Reserve similar incidents have been reported. In these cases, the poachers were Tanzanian nationals, and the rangers tracking them deployed the taught Y-formation technique. The perpetrators were in most cases apprehended before they could initiate the ambush, and in some cases were shot when rangers returned fire while defending colleagues under fire from the poachers; no injuries to rangers were reported. Tactics have been particularly useful for avoiding exchange of fire or conducting arrests prior to exchange of fire, increasing safety for both officers and suspects. Wildlife officers are regularly called on to provide evidence by the prosecution in court, and have informally repeatedly emphasized that the techniques in crime-scene management have been useful, not least to ensure that evidence is handled

Confiscated bicycles used by poachers and illegal loggers, Tabora, September 2015


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