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

• Intelligence, both in the form of terrain analysis and source work – anonymized to protect sources’ identity. • Overview of law enforcement capability and recent activity. This is necessary in order to identify one’s own resources, to best deploy them, and to avoid conducting patrols that are predictable and repetitive. When the situational awareness is established in written form, it is easier for newcomers (in this case the recently arrived Zone Commander) to quickly acquire an update on the situation. It also gives the various command levels a shared understanding of the situation. This makes the key issues transparent, which in itself helps everyone in the unit to pull together towards a common goal, achieving unity of effort. Knowing the commander’s intention is critical for the unit’s members to take the initiative both in training and in the field, when they come across unexpected circumstances. Another advantage with having shared situational awareness in writing is that it helps separate planning from execution, which reduces the risk of spontaneous shifts in priorities while on patrol. For example, in order to effectively intercept poachers crossing from the refugee camp on the Rwanda side of the border and into Kimisi Game Reserve, priority should be given to either bushmeat poachers, elephant poachers, snare poachers or cattle herders. These different types of poachers operate using different methods and patterns. They are likely to present different threats, and while some of them operate locally and have short range, others may be crossing tens of kilometres per day for days, and sleep in the bush. Rangers have a lot of knowledge about such patterns of behaviour by poachers both in specific reserves and more generally, but this knowledge must be made available to all in advance, including younger inexperienced patrol members. An ideal scenario would entail a map outlining the situation in each game reserve, showing where previous patrols have taken place, and indicating what kind of activity has been encountered. This information, together with the commander’s intentions and priorities, would then inform long-term plans for law enforcement in the area. From this in turn, individual patrols would be planned to effectively, step-by-step, fulfil the long-term plans. Such patrols would provide measurable progress, because they would either meet the stated goals or not. If they did not meet the goals sought, the patrols could be reconfigured to take place in other areas (choke points, obvious infiltration or exfiltration routes), at other times (day/ night/early morning), and/or by other methods (tracking,

Such priorities are essential to keeping the patrol tied to its primary objective, because the game reserves are vast and have a wide range of different offenders. Offenders are typically cattle herders, charcoal poachers, meat poachers using weapons or traps, and in some cases armed and capable poachers killing signature species such as elephants. In the absence of clearly stated priorities, it is easy for the patrol to become distracted by any kind of encounter with trespassers in the field. In areas where there is large-scale poaching of signature species, parallel to other types of trespassing and poaching, considered prioritizations are critical. Without planning, there is a risk that patrols gravitate towards where ‘low-hanging fruit’ apprehensions can bemade, i.e. themost accessible but relatively benign violators. If rangers expend their capability to catch these less significant violators, then themore skilled, dangerous and effective poachers (ideally identified through a planning process whereby intentions generate priorities, which in turn lead to concrete patrolling plans) are likely to escape capture. Professional poacher opponents are likely to be skilled in rudimentary intelligence collection about ranger movements and typical patrolling habits, as well as counter- tracking techniques. These poachers are the ones that need to be prioritized if elephant poaching is to be successfully reduced, and they require rangers to fully utilize their techniques. Situational awareness A more active use of planning would, however, require a shared sense of situational awareness among all levels of law enforcement. Such an understanding must be shared in writing in order to go beyond the accumulated personal – individual – knowledge of senior rangers. If not, it can be tempting for key personnel to withhold key information, or personnel rotation, sick leave or other issues will severely impact on the knowledge level of the unit. Writing knowledge down secures its transparency and facilitates its sharing. Situational awareness in writing can take the form of: • Maps that are annotated with writing, overlays, arrows or notes. Maps are the cornerstone of any operation, and they can also take the form of sand/mud recreations of the landscape, which help patrol members understand and remember the area of operation. • Collected patrol logs, incident reports and so forth, ideally represented on a map to easily visualize past incidents, whether successful law enforcement intercepts or locations of carcasses. Patrol logs become the rangers’ common knowledge base, and form an excellent basis for training cases as well.


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