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

they been there? Tracking is what translates random patrol-to- contact into a more targeted effort where it is possible to both backtrack to a crime scene or forward-track towards poachers on the move, to intercept and arrest them. More importantly, it improves the safety of both the officers and the suspects, by enabling rangers to conduct more arrests and reduce armed contacts/exchange of fire, and avoid ambushes. Tracking is thus the most important practical skill for rangers to enable past crimes to be prosecuted and emerging crimes to be intercepted and disrupted. The second priority is crime-scene management. Rangers must know how to preserve the crime scene, protect it from contamination and record and collect sufficient evidence to be able to present a strong case in court. The subsequent statement from the rangers helps build this court case, with individual rangers who attended specific crime scenes being expected to present their case in court. There is a direct relationship between the quality of the handling of the crime scene and the likelihood of successful prosecution. The third priority is rangers’ knowledge of the applicable laws that they are to enforce, specifically the Wildlife Conservation Act of 2009. Rangers need to know what kind of animal carcass they are facing, as the relevant charges vary accordingly. The fourth priority is training in how to write a statement. The experiences from the crime scene, found by tracking, must be conveyed in writing to build the court case. The poachers have their defence case built, and the rangers must help the prosecution build a case saying, beyond reasonable doubt, that the individual(s) in question was at the crime scene, and is in fact guilty of the wildlife crime. A typical case can involve several counts. It is a crime to enter the game reserve without a permit, which constitutes trespassing. A second count is typically illegal possession of weapons, where everything that is capable of killing an animal counts, including snares. A third count is possession of any product from wild animals, from bushmeat to trophies. Separate laws apply for the destruction of vegetation, encompassing illegal logging and charcoal production for example, as these are not covered by the Wildlife Conservation Act. For game reserve managers, practical skills in these four fields are necessary to performing their day-to-day jobs.

areas in general having been overexploited, the problems have appeared in Selous as well. By now it is mostly the northern areas of the game reserve that have been troubled by cattle illegally driven into the reserve, but as the human population continues to grow, so does the number of cattle, and the remaining grazing lands are increasingly overexploited. As seen in the north-western parts of the country, the issue increased at the time of the general elections in late 2015, due to politicians trying to please voters and powerful businessmen. Training requirements for rangers as seen by game reserve managers Senior game reserve managers emphasize the necessity of practical training for rangers. While newly educated rangers tend to have a strong theoretical understanding, they need more practical training to become operationally effective. The first priority for the rangers is tracking, as it is these skills that make it possible for them to determine what kind of suspects they are facing. Is it an elephant poacher, or a bushmeat hunter, or any other kind of trespasser? What kind of weapons are they using? How many of them are there? How long have

Rangers from Ugalla Game Reserve and Friedkin Conservation Fund training tracking in Ugalla Game Reserve, September 2015

In terms of training that is less well covered by domestic training institutions, patrol technique and firearms training is identified


Made with FlippingBook - Online magazine maker