On 9th December 2013 the passing out parade was held at Parque Nacional do Limpopo’s (PNL) Aguia Pesqueira (Fish Eagle) camp for 40 newly trained field rangers.

The 12 week training was undertaken at the Park’s new Field Ranger and Training base in Mapai and was supported by the South Africa Wildlife College which has extensive field ranger training experience across southern Africa. The training programme was adopted by the Game Rangers Training Co-ordination Group as the standard adopted across Africa thereby ensuring the Parks’ field rangers are at the forefront of the best regional anti-poaching techniques. The training was also supported by selected senior Park Field Rangers and the Mozambican Police who were commissioned to conduct the rifle skills training.

Following an application and interview process, 110 candidates were selected for the 1 week Field Ranger pre-selection phase which through rigorous drills reduced to the group to the best 40 candidates. These candidates then undertook a 4 weeks Basics training course following which 30 field rangers were selected for a 5 weeks tactical operations course with the best 6 candidates being selected for the final phase of 2 weeks Patrol Leaders course.

These 30 best field rangers will be deployed along the border with Kruger National Park (KNP) to focus on the increasing rhino and elephant poaching threats facing the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP). The unit will be supported by 3 newly procured landcruiser vehicles, rifles, radios and patrol equipment which were handed over as part of the passing out ceremony.

The passing out parade featured drill, arms handling and operations demonstrations which was thoroughly enjoyed by a large crowd.  During the presentations, the master of ceremonies Mr Abel Nhalidede acknowledged Mr Nelson Mandela’s significant contribution towards the creation of the Park including the opening of the gate on 4th October 2001 to let through the first elephants translocated from Kruger National Park.

The key note address was given by Ms Maria Emilia from Gaza province Ministry of Tourism in which she acknowledged the increasing anti-poaching challenges faced by the GLTP and the important role that the Park and in particular the new protection unit held to meet this challenge. The new unit, which had it’s first anti-poaching success during a training exercise, will be deployed to the field from mid December onwards.