FROM PATROL TO ACTION: USEFUL DATA COLLECTED

Protected areas in Africa are seen like a store where people must be going to collect resource in scarce periods. This is one side of the vision while conservation institutions and organisation see that as a last shelter to protect wildlife species and enable environmental services for the benefit of the world. This being said, local people are aware of the legal prohibitions about park resources but they do want to get in for survival.For this reason, the mandated institutions have rangers trained and equipped to make sure that the area is surveyed.

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Pic1.-Rangers going for overnight patrolling in Lulimbi sector/Virunga National Park

Why rangers do they go for patrolling?

They do patrols to discourage and arrest illegal collectors of resources such as poachers who enter into the park to kill wildlife. For poachers, they don’t care about the status of animal (they don’t care about the number of individuals which are still alive in the world), settlers and invaders who are occupying different habitats that are suitable for wildlife. they do patrols to make sure that the conservation law is respected and have data collected to enable monitoring of the park status.

What do rangers find in the bush?

During patrols, rangers in the field they might find armed poachers, settlers, armed groups people, alive wildlife, etc. Once in the field, rangers meet with armed poachers and people and they have to exchange boo lets. Because of this, there are some rangers killed or injured on duty. We’ve got about 100 rangers killed in Virunga since the 90s (civil conflict in DRC). They also have to destroy some illegal camps and arrest owners and take them to court or get them back to their villages after awareness sessions.

What data do they collect?

Once in the field, rangers collect information about wildlife seen, their sightings and dropping; dead induces, poaching signs and ecosystem status. This information collected is compiled as reports and used for management purposes.

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Pics 2&3 – Top: Sighting of Okapi in Virunga Park and Below: Hippopotamus in Ishasha river/Virunga National park

Does field data used for action?

Data collected and entered into computers, the report is sent out to managers and partners to make sure that they are aware of different threats in the protected area. The report states also some of recommendations to be meant by different authorities if they want the park to be protected. This has been used to convince local authorities to support conservation efforts, but also to determine which areas must be targeted as priority.

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Pic4- Political awareness meeting in Goma

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8 Comments

  1. F. J. Pechir
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for this information and your interesting comments! Please allow me to write somethig about South Africa and its elephants. Now South Africa has this problem of the elephants´ overpopulation, a man created problem in the first place. But is this country take the option of a slaughter, what can we spect in the near future from other short-sighted african governments when they have such situations? South Africa, and we humans as a whole have the opportunity to show the world how this kind of problems can be solved in an intelligent and realistic way, looking out for the wildlife integrity.The translocation of elephants is the best choice. There are international institutions and private donors that have the will to help, not only in the economics but also with expierence in this kind of managements. Appropiate lands for the reubication are out there in many places in Africa, some of them very near South Africa. Some of this lands are located inside other national parks and reserves, others are private lands owned by people that are transforming this areas into wildife sanctuaries, because they know that today, in many of these places, the tourism based on wildlife is by far the best choice over farming and livestock, because of climate and money. Very recently and even in this momment, there are programs reintroducing wildlife (including elephants and rhinos) in federal and private reserves in Africa by goverments and international conservation groups like WWF and IFAW. Day by day there are more private land owners with conservation in mind that are participating in this kind of projects, and even fences have been eliminated between neighbours to allow more space for wildlife. South Africa has the resources, and out there the correct places for a translocation. If this country and the world allow an elephant slaughter, we would see in the near future other african countries that could say ´well, let´s see, if South Africa killed its elephants to solve the overpopulation, so why we can´t do the same?´ Slaughters of elephants could be a common “solution” for other african countries if South Africa give now such barbaric example. Besides, this country do not has to porform a total translocation of elephants at the same time. It could be done in a two or three year period, only including a determined number (or families) of elephants each time to different places until the finalization of the program, making easiest, by this way, the entire management. If I´m a tourist interested in wildlife, I already know that at least a part of my money will be used in the conservation of the wildlife that I admire and love, so, I will preffer to give the money to a government that are working in preserve elephants, instead to give it to a goverment that actually are involved in such insane, barbaric, and cruel practices like a bloody slaughter of innocent animals. How many tourist will erase South Africa as a possible destination because of this? I think many. There are no excuse for South Africa if a slaughter is allowed. Intelligence and decency must prevail over madness, insanity and cruelty. South Africa has the opportunity to do the right thing about elephants. What will take appart this government from the Idi Amin´s mountrous actions in the past when many thousands of elephants were killed for ivory in his country? South Africa could murder elephants to resolve a man-created problem of overpopulation, not for ivory, but for the elephants, which are the main affected on this situation, there is no difference, they could be killed as well. Elephants are highly intelligent and super-sensitive creatures, some of their senses are only coming to light for us, senses that we even can imagine only a few years ago. They can think and feel, they are capable of love each others and to mantain strong family bounds throug their lives. We must protect this threatened species and I hope that South Africa will show to the world how a correct management of this situation can save thousands of elephants from death. This country has already show to us a good wildlife protection in the past, let´s hope that, once more, South Africa show us the better face of conservation. Elephants ruled their lives by voices that we, humans, will never hear…let´s them a chance to live in peace, protected, and always wild…

  2. Lucia Cristiana, Brazil
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    F.J., you are an wise man. Thank you very much for sharing your experience with us. Have WWF and IFAW, or another conservancy unit, a petition that we can sign to ask South Africa government to choose an intelligent solution on elephants’ overpopulation? If yes, please give us their links.

  3. F. J. Pechir
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Thank you dear Lucia for your kind words. Almost all international conservation groups are against the slaughter. I´m a member of WWF and IFAW, but as far as I know any of this institutions (or any other) have a petition about this issue to be signed yet. I´m working all day in my office for now, reading and writing in Wildlife Direct during some free momments, and really don´t have the time to investigate if some other institution has a on-line petition. If someone knows something about this, please give the link!
    Muchas gracias Lucia por mantener tu mente y corazon abiertos para la preservacion de la vida salvaje!

  4. Theresa Siskind St Petersburg FL
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    F.J. and Lucia, just google “Petitions to ban culling of South African Elephants”. There are dozens of these petitions to sign and forward to friends. F.J., you are a treasure, an inspiration and teacher to all of us.

  5. Lucia Cristiana, Brazil
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Thank you F.J. for gentle words. Thank you Theresa for the info. I’ll sign petitions in defense of elephants of South Africa in google.

  6. F. J. Pechir
    Posted March 7, 2008 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Lucia, you´re wellcome. Theresa, thank you, but I think that I´m learnig from you and all of our friends here in WD that still there are people worried about preserving life in our planet, it is encouraging to me see your preocupation and efforts to help. Believe me, I´m learning from all of you that there is hope even in the darkest momments…

  7. Posted April 21, 2008 at 9:28 am | Permalink

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  8. Posted May 7, 2008 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    well done, brother

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