You Can’t Take the Game Out of a Ranger in Africa

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Game Ranger Course - Kruger National Park - South AfricaAny African safari wouldn’t be complete without the alert, informed presence of professional game rangers - but how much is said about the process of becoming one of these well acquainted wildlife scouts? Where does it all take place, and can just anyone take up the khaki-mantle of this position, given the right training?One way is through courses like this one:The Pathfinders Africa Game Ranger Course has been designed for people with an interest in educating themselves on the principles of managing wildlife areas, for the conservation and preservation of important ecosystems. A fourteen day program, this course covers all facets of life as a game ranger, as well as the skills needed to be authoritative in this field. Said Corne Schalkwyk, “We do the training in two venues - one week Kruger, and one week Karongwe, in order to show the participant the difference between budget constraints and impacts as they differ at Private Game reserves and National Parks.” “We also provide insight through different specialist trainers each being very skilled in their area of expertise,” he continued.• Instructor Ralph Kalwa boasts extensive experience within the Kruger Park as tour guide and ranger.• Jack Greeff, with eleven years of experience with the South African Special Forces Brigade, has headed up several successful anti-poaching operations, in South Africa's Kruger National Park, later elsewhere, and now is the head of Anti-poaching in the Pafuri / Makuleke region of the Kruger National park.• Johna Turner is a Field Guides Association of Southern Africa qualified level two trails guide and a savannah birding specialist, with extensive wilderness experience in international locals such as Alaska, Northern Australia, Tanzania, Zambia and all of Africa.A team like this pretty much lends a program such as this all the credibility it needs to educate anyone,ranging from adventure travellers to established field guides looking to run or manage their own game farms. But what about the training itself?“ After completion of the modules the participant gets a EcoTraining Certificate,” said Schalkwyk.Subjects include:• Black pot principle• Landscape model: ROZ plan, fire management; water provision and Elephant management.• Animal training: Game distribution, sex ratios, age classes, game numbers and animal condition.• Area integrity management: Anti-poaching, equipment training, patrol methods, crime scene management, anti-poaching surveillance. (Specialist: Jack Greeff)• Rare Game Management: Limitations and management options, active adaptive management, game counts and census methods.• Wildlife and tourism management’s co-existence, population dynamics, challenges and commercialisation in private and public sectors.• Buffalo breeding programme and Elephant contraception.• Alien and Invasive plant management, bush encroachment, tree rehabilitation.• Global warming and its effects on South African wildlife.• Environmental auditing and house-keeping and waste management.Students will be expected to observe, conducting animal censes to be used in a data collection and utilised by park management in actual, park related operations. Learners contribute authentically by making patrol drives to check on game distribution; sex ratios; age classes; game numbers and condition. Learners conduct waterhole counts and sleep outs, and a full day and night is spent with Jack Greeff and his anti-poaching team at Maluleke.There may be game capture activity if such becomes available during the course - this isn't guaranteed. Other highlights include a visit to the buffalo breeding programme, practical work on alien and invasive plant control and waste cleanup, as well as the final presentation, made by all students as individuals on the final day.To find out more, visit:

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