A total of 50 Tanzanian game scouts have benefited from the training currently being conducted to increase their capacity in combating wildlife poaching and trafficking in Rungwa Game Reserve.
According to a press statement issued in Dar es Salaam yesterday by the US Embassy, the training was conducted by military experts from the US Army Africa Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa and the North Carolina National Guard Special Forces.
During the training session between July 25 and September 9 the game scouts are being trained in surveillance and patrol techniques, arrest and detention procedures, search and seizure, crime scene investigation, first aid, human rights and rules of engagement.
The statement said the training program was initiated after the US Ambassador to Tanzania Mark Childress visited Rungwa in 2015 and sought the need for capacity building and improved infrastructure to stop the alarming rates of poaching in the Game Reserve. The Ambassador pledged to take quick action and, within a year, marshaled support from a variety of partners to assist the game scouts.
He highlighted that an infusion of support from The Wyss Foundation provided equipment and light gear to game scouts at a post that had been taken over by poachers, enabling the game scouts to patrol the post during the rainy season for the first time in more than a decade.
During the training demonstration of field techniques held this week, the Ambassador remarked, “This program highlights the strong collaboration that the United States has with Tanzania and is a model of what can be achieved when we all work together: government, security forces, the international community, NGOs, the private sector, and Tanzanian citizens across the country.”
Major General Greg Lusk, Adjutant General for the North Carolina National Guard, travelled to Tanzania to observe the training.
The demonstration of field techniques was also attended by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Major General Gaudence Milanzi, the Project Manager of Rungwa Game Reserve Saidi Kabanda and the Country Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Tim Davenport.
This program is one part of a major effort by the US Government and other partners to protect the elephant and wildlife corridor between Rungwa and Katavi, thus conserving a critical link between the Ruaha- Rungwa and Katavi ecosystems.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with WCS, is supporting the $8.5-million five-year Southern Highlands and Ruaha-Katavi Protection Program (SHARPP).
SHARPP is focused on four key areas: wildlife management areas (WMAs); livelihoods; habitat management; and elephant monitoring and protection.