On April 22, some 42 rangers and village game scouts had gathered at Manyara Ranch for three days of intensive joint team training in wilderness first aid, as led by the Sentinel Outdoor Institute, organized by Honeyguide Foundation, funded primarily by Big Life Foundation, with additional support from the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and the Tanzania People and Wildlife Fund (TPW).
With scouts coming from Manyara Ranch itself, Burunge WMA, the newfound Randilen WMA, and TPW’s conservation project in Simanjiro, the group learned key procedures in wilderness first aid, including how to dress and deal with wounds caused by fire, snake bites, stabbings, gunshots, and other perforations and ailments.
But then the group had to deal with an emergency of a different sort.
On the first evening after training, a community informant tipped off rangers about two notorious poachers with a plan to raid Manyara Ranch late that night. A select team, including government anti-poaching rangers from the Wildlife Division, awoke at 3:30am to track down the poachers at a place called Kichwa cha Ng’ombe, or “Head of the Cow.”
Much later they discovered tracks from motorbikes, and one team went on foot. Then they heard the shrill buzz of a motorbike engine. It was time to set an ambush and fast. Soon enough, they outflanked the poachers and forced them to surrender some time after dawn.
Right there on the motorbike, the men had stacked the meat, head, and parts of a female wildebeest that showed signs of having been recently pregnant and nursing. One of the suspects happened to be a well-known notorious poacher from the nearby town of Mto wa Mbu, a hotbed of poaching syndicates. The same group is believed to have been involved the recent killings in the area of zebra and a giraffe.
The men were later delivered to the Wildlife Division’s headquarters in Arusha for questioning, and it was back to training for the 42 scouts and rangers. Fortunately, in that operation, they did not need to use any first aid skills, but the incident certainly goes to show how rangers must always expand their knowledge, keep their skills sharp, and be prepared to act when duty calls.