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Long Range Patrolling

Big5Protection have been at the forefront of the development of the LRP concept. The minimum course duration is 30 days with a view to returning to add additional skills. The course includes the introduction of specific kit and equipment developed for the new Long Range Patrol Group (LRPG), a growing band of rangers, being introduced to the concept across Africa.

 

The packs are different, as are the rations and method of carriage and cooking. Dried food, mostly available in local supermarkets, is carefully measured into single meal portions and carried in individual containers. Cooking is on individual twig burning stoves, in individual cooking pots. The base of the pack houses the sleeping system; jungle sleeping bag, military style shelter sheet (basha) and ground mat/stretcher. A three piece ‘basha pole’ ensures the shelter can be erected anywhere there’s a single tree or bush. Water filter straws are an option but ensure even the most stagnant water can be filtered for use.

 

The entire LRP pack, with 4-6 days rations, can be carried throughout the day or night operation, therefore the ranger team can continue their mission, such as following poacher tracks, for as long as is necessary, without the need to return to a base. Methods of resupply in the field are part of the course, as is the development of mobile base stations if required.

An overview by Simon Leak.  The endemic issue with rangers throughout Africa, is the need and reliance to sit around a central camp fire and cook a meal of maize meal porridge. Nsimmer, Sadza, Mealy-Pap, what ever the local name for the food, the routine is familiar. On an extended patrol of maybe 8 days, four rangers will carry a sack of maize flour, large bottle of cooking oil and compliment, such as dried fish (kapenta) or a relish.  Large cooking pots will be strapped to the back of packs, along with containers for water. They will move only a short distance from the drop off, close to a familiar water source and make a camp, from which a couple will patrol out to cover the required ground each day, but they will return in the mid afternoon, or earlier if they’re not being monitored, to help with the fire making and cooking routine. Much of the food will be carried back unused.

If the rangers have been allowed to adopt this type of patrolling routine, it can be difficult to entice them to adopt a routine that means they work longer days and cover more ground. The concept, or at least key elements of Long Range Patrolling must therefore be introduced during initial ranger training, otherwise for established units, it must be introduced as a specialist skill, for which candidates must be volunteers, who undergo a selection process and there must be incentives.

What is Long Range Patrolling? The concept is not new…..

Long Range Patrolling (LRP) is a skill normally associated with specialist troops. Patrols from a unit that specialise in LRP, will have the capability to go further for longer and achieve more than regular patrols. This type of patrolling is applicable to many environments and theatres but none more so than Counter-Poaching (CP), where vast and inaccessible parks and reserves are difficult to police and where poachers may not be greatly threatened by conventional CP patrols.

Sustainability is key. For long duration patrols, LRP personnel must be prepared to embrace different rations, feeding and cooking regimes. Travelling light and covering long distances, without the need to operate from and return to a basecamp on a daily basis, is what sets LRP units apart from the conventional. The freedom afforded to LRPs, allows them to melt into the bush, to be unseen and unheard, to be unpredictable in their movements and to be where no-one expected they could be. In this way, the units have great potential to add an extra layer of effectiveness at the front line of poaching.

Visit our blog to see one of our LRP units in Malawi

Further information on course content can be obtained on request…..

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