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

A ranger cuts down snares in Burigi Game Reserve, November 2015

The patrol on the first day, in Biharamulo Game Reserve, entailed encounters with charcoal poachers and illegal cattle herders. The area showed evidence of heavy illegal logging for charcoal burning. One charcoal camp had an output of about 20–30 sacks, but bigger ones producing about 100 sacks are typical according to the rangers. The production area would typically be deserted, with charcoal poachers inspecting the four-day burning procedure a couple of times per day. The rangers conducted several arrests, and the patrol leader decided that the charcoal poachers should be brought to the police for prosecution. Evidence collected included preliminary interrogation and photographs, and identity details of the detainees. We did not witness comprehensive use of crime-scene management techniques. The cattle herders were released at the end of the day with orders to inform cattle owners that their illegal grazing was now subject to law enforcement. The cattle were clearly marked, and the owners well known. Thus the rangers and the cattle herders found themselves playing out a political conflict on the ground that would have to be resolved between local politicians representing cattle owners, and the senior ranger commanders.

ambush, foot patrol, mobile patrol, intelligence collection, reconnaissance). Furthermore, if the patrols did not reach the objectives set, this would inform needs for further training (use of maps or GPS, patrolling or ambushing at night, long- term stays in the bush, weapons handling, patrol technique, intelligence collection, tracking, crime-scene investigation). When objectives are met, rangers would simply continue to the next objective, which can even happen during a single patrol. Patrol execution The patrols we took part in typically started with a drive from the overnight camp out into a designated area of interest. One camp was out in the field, whereas the two subsequent nights took place in a permanent ranger camp. Patrols would typically start around mid-morning, and continue until early or mid-afternoon. From the second camp location, the patrol infiltration consistently used a main road into the game reserve. Once the cars were parked, we were consulted for advice in our capacity as evaluators. At this point the timing, infiltration route and objective of the patrols had already been decided. Patrol formation and use of terrain were open to discussion and we were able to share experiences to enhance patrol security and tactical use of the terrain.


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