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  • SimonLeak

Kenya 2019/2020

Apr – Sep 2019 Female Ranger selection & training, Segera National Park, Kenya.

Post the La Pendjari (Benin) courses, Shane was asked if he could assist Christopher with the running of the Segera course, after Thomas had to drop out due to family reasons. Shane used much of his unique yoga and meditation techniques as empowerment tools, over the 6-month period. The training was documented in a film to be shown in the New Year.

Oct - Dec 2020

Female Ranger selection and training in Segera National Park, Kenya. A quick return home for Simon, before meeting with Christopher, to fly out to Segera for this second female ranger course.

The selection and training of 15 female rangers concluded on the 15th December, when Simon returned to the UK for Christmas. Working on behalf of the Zeitz Foundation, Simon and Chris ran the project in three phases:

Phase 1

111 hopeful candidates turned up at the gate on day 1. We had one day to down-select 30 so we achieved this through an initial 3km run to give us our working number of 80, who we then split into 2 groups for what we termed ‘Head & Heart’ assessments. The candidates were accommodated in tents overnight, while their scores were assessed. The following morning, we arranged for our friend, a Senior Medical Officer (SMO) from the British Army, to come in to deliver medical training, focusing on trauma in babies and infants. This was for the unsuccessful candidates, so they would leave with some useful and potentially life saving knowledge.

Phase 2

We had 7 days to train and assess the remaining 30 candidates. There was no tactical ranger training but self-defense and medical ‘legacy’ training, to ensure each candidate (whether they passed or failed) would have useful life skills. It was sad to have to select the 15 who would leave us, but each was given a certificate of attendance and employer letter of recommendation, highlighting the focus and determination of each individual. It is known from previous experience, that these will aid many of them to find alternative employment.

Phase 3

The following 9 weeks were dedicated to law enforcement, tactical patrolling and combat tracking. We maintained the close links with the SMO, Dr. Andrew, who gave up his weekends to deliver more advanced medical training. There was great sadness when Chris announced he would be leaving as his role to develop their self-defense, law enforcement and arresting techniques was complete and it left Simon to focus of patrolling, reconnaissance and tracking skills.

The end result was a very successful course with 15 very well trained and dedicated female rangers. Their potential role in the park will be as reconnaissance and arresting patrols with the hope that their male counterparts will receive the necessary training to bring them up to the same standards. The aspiration for Big5 is for a fully trained and integrated male/female security force, who work together with distinct but separate roles of reconnaissance and strike. By training and exercising together, both male and female rangers will recognise their respective strengths and will learn to respect and trust each other operationally, without cultural discrimination, thereby maximising the great potential to become a major and revered security entity for the rhinos, when they arrive.


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