A meeting with a poacher is not a negotiation, nor a friendly discussion. It’s a fight, and we don’t want our rangers to come in second.
That’s why Big Life has just launched the Amboseli Conservation Academy, a training facility designed to prepare rangers for anything that might happen to them in the bush.
Dealing with poachers is only one part of a Big Life ranger’s job. There are also ivory traders to ambush, elephants to protect from farmers, warrior-led lion hunts to stop, medical emergencies, crime-scene evidence to collect, and poaching court cases to monitor. Doing all of this safely takes a lot of knowledge and an equal amount of skill.
Big Life’s goal is for every ranger to undertake the comprehensive ranger training that is offered by the Kenya Wildlife Service Manyani ranger training facility at least once. But training is an ongoing process, and the refresher courses taught at the Amboseli Conservation Academy will keep the rangers' skills fresh and relevant. There are already 30 rangers who are better off because of it: the inaugural group of graduates have just completed the first 3-week ranger refresher course.
We don’t plan on letting the dust settle between ranger training courses. We intend to turn this Academy into a hub for training on other critically important topics in the ecosystem, such as rangeland management, conservancy management and governance, and tourism development.
We’re very grateful to our partners at the Thin Green Line Foundation and for the generosity of Michael and Jane Agg for turning this idea into a reality. We also thank IFAW for construction of the instructors' housing, and For Rangers, USAID, and GEF for funding equipment. Equally important is the support of local communities, particularly the Amboseli Tsavo Game Scouts Association.
A ranger’s life is difficult, and it is dangerous. We have no way to know what challenges each of them will face in the future; we can only try to make sure that they are ready for anything.