Graduation day for trainee anti-poaching rangers on Wildlife Warzone
Graduation day comes early on Monday’s episode of Wildlife Warzone, which premieres on Al Jazeera English on Monday, 28 October 2013 at 22:30GMT.
Of the nine anti-poaching trainees who began, only six remain by the final day of the grueling Protrack course. They have one final make-or -break challenge: a 25 kilometre run, in the heat of the day, with full backpacks on for the final five kilometres.
For 28-year-old Mandoza ‘Freddie’ Tshabalala, graduating is emotional. “I’ve never been acknowledged for anything in my life; it was an amazing feeling,” says the former paving contractor from Johannesburg.
“It’s a very, very good feeling,” echoes Chrisjan Visser, a 21-year-old Cape Tonian wildlife guide. “When I was a little boy, teacher asked us to draw a picture of what you wanted to be when you grew up: I drew a picture of myself in the field with elephants and giraffes and lions and a stick. That’s what I’ve always wanted to be.”
The six newly qualified rangers celebrate together, singing:
“Protrack boys can be bad, so hasty, so annoying.
Protrack boys can be bad and kill the poachers.
Hooray for the holy Protrack boys.”
Lunga Nyawe and Lionel Poney then head back to their families in the Eastern Cape. While Lunga must still find work, Lionel has a job waiting for him at Shamwari Game Reserve, named the World’s Leading Conservation Company and Leading Safari Lodge at the 2012 World Travel Awards.
Meanwhile, Chrisjan takes the other graduates for a celebratory hike through the Drakensberg Mountains before they start working for Protrack. Their first posting is in Limpopo at Selati Game Reserve, where three rhinos have been poached in the previous three weeks. For 16 days, they will live out in the bush. Within minutes of starting, they’re already on the trail of fresh poacher tracks…
This fourth episode in the six-part series screens from Monday, 28 October at 22:30GMT, with additional screenings on Tuesdays at 9:30GMT, Wednesdays at 03:30GMT, and Thursdays at 16:30GMT.
Watch the episode promo (not viewable in all countries):
The full first episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0ON_d36Y60
The full second episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZH02iQfyBAs
The full third episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7sDgwC30y0
For more information, visit http://aje.me/GRw7Nh.
ABOUT WILDLIFE WARZONE:
New Al Jazeera series Wildlife Warzone explores the only thing standing between heavily-armed poachers and the decimation of a species: rangers.
Poaching is worth $17 billion a year and is being fueled by demand in Asia, where rhino horn in particular is believed to have, unproven, medicinal properties, including the ability to cure cancer. Poaching is big business in South Africa – rhino horn is now worth more than gold.
The six-part series follows a new batch of trainee rangers as they enter a brutal world of military training and finally head to the frontline of Africa’s Wildlife Warzone.
Kevin Kriedemann & Joy Sapieka
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