Rangers from Zimbabwe & Sumatra Come Together to Advance Conservation
This past August, our Operational Security & Planning Expert from the Bumi Hills Foundation (BHF) and Bumi Hills Anti-Poaching Unit (BHAPU) travelled to Indonesia to take part in a knowledge and skills exchange program.
For two and a half weeks, our representative assessed the team of rangers from the Tambling Wildlife Nature Conservation (TWNC) site in southern Sumatra, offering recommendations on patrol techniques, operational planning and more. Ideas and methods on the use of technologies such as SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) conservation software and camera trapping were discussed by both sides with much benefit to all.
The focus was primarily on the issues and challenges faced by rangers especially in anti-poaching efforts, which were remarkably similar considering the geographical differences. Everyone agreed that an increase of ranger support and training was key to success with further need to engage communities and educate the rural areas on the necessity of conservation and a balanced ecosystem.
A major concern for everyone was the speed at which species are being lost. As the Bumi Hills/Sebungwe region of Zimbabwe has seen a 75% decimation of elephant populations, TWNC also reports that the Sumatran rhino and elephant are at critical levels and the Sumatran tiger may have as few as 400 individuals left in the wild. This does not reflect an Earth in which long lasting biodiversity is a priority.
There is hope, as the rangers of TWNC are among some of the most passionate that can be encountered. Their appreciation for the difficulties faced in Africa where poaching is becoming more and more syndicated was obvious. Yet their daily operations are no cake-walk either. Dense vegetation, very high heat and humidity levels and poachers with an inherited knowledge of the forest are just a few of the challenges these men and women face.
Ultimately, the program was a celebration of the role of the ranger, in whichever country, continent or environment. The opportunity to see how one another operate and survive is not to be taken lightly. We at BHF have certainly learned a lot from the experience and hope that some of our expertise can be put into practice there. Regardless of what language is spoken and what is protected, if you fight for the wildlife and wilderness, then we stand with you.
This trip would not have been possible if it weren’t for a Canadian biology teacher (who wishes to remain anonymous) who formulated and financed this trip, to whom we are very thankful. A final thanks to the Bumi Hills Foundation directors who facilitated the trip and to the phenomenal management and staff of Tambling. We hope to see you again soon.