Ninety rangers from Paro and Sarpang are attending a five-day training in Sarpang to equip themselves in protecting wildlife from poaching and illegal logging.

An expert on wildlife law enforcement from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Crispian Barlow, who has over 20 years of experience as a ranger in South Africa, is training the rangers.

He said that despite numerous threats, rangers have been carrying out works without formal training. “While some have undergone ad hoc training, there is no systematic training and associated facility to ensure that rangers are well equipped for their challenging position.”

The training on wildlife law enforcement, he said, is expected to not only improve rangers’ ability to do their job in protecting wildlife and their habitats but also help to keep rangers safer in the line of duty.

Crispian Barlow said it is common to hear park managers’ demand for more rangers.

He believes that with proper training, equipment and good leaders, most of the existing rangers in Bhutan would be enough. “They have the enthusiasm but they are lacking in some basic skills,” he said.

He also said that this training will also help them build confidence and competence.

During the five-day training, the rangers will learn various tactical skills such as apprehension and detaining of suspects correctly and legally, recognising and identifying signs and evidence of illegal or restricted activities in the field.

One of the participants, Yeshi Yangdon, who is a ranger with Sarpang forest division, said that in the field, poachers are always better equipped and have better tactics.

“They are basically one step ahead of us most of the time.  Training like this will help us in dealing with poachers and their illegal activities,” she said.

Next week, rangers from Royal Manas National Park, Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary and Jomotshangkha Wildlife Sanctuary will attend the same training.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang