As I patrol through the bush with rangers to my left and right, shadowing a couple of black rhino late on a moonlit night, I pinch myself, still surprised to find myself here.
I have to admit that growing up I was never that concerned about the conservation of animals nor thought much about their rightful place on the earth. Like many other young contractors earning big dollars in the Middle East, I was more concerned with the material than anything else. But when I headed to Africa a few years ago and witnessed the destruction first hand, something changed. I realised there is more to life than looking after number one.
Why shouldn’t a rhino, which hasn’t had the need to evolve for thousands of years, have the right to feel safe in its natural environment? Or an impala, be able to roam free without being so callously caught in a snare to suffer a long, slow, painful death?
I feel extremely privileged to be a part of the IAPF. To be working with such committed, passionate people, united by a single goal, is inspiring. To see what the organisation has achieved in such a short space of time is awesome.
But in front of us we have a massive task. As well as consolidating the training academies and anti-poaching units that are under our control, we are constantly refining tactics and standard operating procedures (SOPs) in the ever-evolving war on poaching. Additionally, we now have the momentous task of resurrecting Chizarira National Park in north western Zimbabwe. Large as it may be (about 200 000 hectares) I have no doubt we will revive “The Forgotten One”, as it is called, back to its former glory.
The academy and surrounding reserve in Victoria Falls is a great proving ground for new tactics and techniques. If our methods work on a relatively small property like this, then we can adapt them for a much larger place such as Chiz.
One of our greatest hopes in this regard, which we hope to achieve with increased funding, will be to launch an unmanned drone over Chiz. I have witnessed the value of drones in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and Sea Shepard have recently started using them in their operations in the Southern Ocean. The effectiveness of drones would be invaluable, and practically unparalleled in anti-poaching operations
But all of this would not be possible if not for you guys, our faithful donors and supporters. Thank you and please keep up the support.
IAPF Operations manager