4th,5th and 6th
For these next three days, we learnt more about tracking, how to report incidents to H.Q using the radio, and way points on the GPS. So we all practised using the radio, which was quite fun. Don’t think H.Q was enjoying it too much though, because we all had a chance to radio in a report, and there were a lot of mistakes..
We were given some time to mend and sew our kit bags and uniform, my sewing skills improving rapidly
Today was quite exciting, we were busy listening to lectures at the training camp and there was an emergency need for backup on one of the farms just outside Hoedspruit (some rhino poachers were spotted and were trying to get away), so we all jumped on the back of the reaction bakkie and headed of to the fence line.
We were all dropped off about a kilometre apart and waited ambush along the fence line, waiting to see if they try to leave the farm. We were all very excited!!! Hearts racing, and eyes piercing into the bush. It’s a pity the poachers didn’t come through this side of the fence as there were a lot of adrenalin filled trainees dying to catch our first poacher.
8th, 9th and 10th
We were all sent to a new farm, a farm that had never had any sort of anti-poaching unit on it.
So we were pretty sure there would be some poaching activity, but all we could find there for the next three days was evidence that there were poachers on the farm, but hadn’t been there for a couple of weeks, we didn’t find any snares but a few carcasses that had clearly been poached.
On the one night we were staying in a very dense part of the bush, with lots of vines going up into the canopy,so we decided we would try climbing them and swing from tree to tree.
So im at the top of this tree, and corporal swings across on a vine to another tree, so I follow him and mid swing, the vine gives out a large crack!!! It snapped halfway across!!! My heart literally stopped, I managed to grab onto the trunk of the tree, Corporal grabbing my shirt saving me from a nice plunge to the ground(about 8 or 9 meters up)
I didn’t climb or swing on the vines again : )
On the tenth we got back from the farm in the afternoon and went and joined the police to do a roadblock on the main road going out of Hoedspruit.
We got to search cars and look hardcore with our camo uniforms and guns, all in all pretty awesome!
We all woke up at the training camp, pretty late in the morning, Corporal didn’t take it too lightly, we were made to run 7 kilometers with no shoes!!! All I can say is that most of us were on the verge of killing corporal! KILLING CORPORAL!!!! What a shit morning!
We had a pretty relaxed day, we helped build Corporals new Barracks, ran 7.5 kms, did some ambush tactics and night ops! All very cool!
13th and 14th
We went to go and do a sweep on a new farm, learnt how to search in formation.
We then did some survival exercises, like making bird traps, and water collecting methods.
15th, 16th and 17th
We were put on a farm just outside Klaserie, where we did some night ambushing, and searching for fishing poachers.
But we found out that the land owner was using bait to attract the leopards and then letting foreigners shoot the leopards, so we decided that we weren’t going to work on this farm again.
Today was a pretty tough day, one of the hardest days!
We woke up did our drills and obstacle course, then ran 7kms, we were then sent to the office to do some weapons training (awesome) we learnt to clean and take apart an uzi, pump action shot gun, an LM6 and a Mini Ruger! All very cool!
But then we had what they call “OPFOK” which is basically we get drilled and made to run seven k's with tyres on a pole, which were flipping heavy! Damn it was a really shit afternoon for all of us.
After our OPFOK we were given some braai meat and cooldrinks, which were AMAZING!!! As we hadn’t eaten any meat since we started the course.
19th to the 24th
We were put on a farm ( I cant mention any of the farms names) but this farm had recent Rhino poaching activity, we saw our first snared rhino, which was pretty disgusting! It was snared by the foot and clearly suffered! It made us all pretty enfuriated, and reminded us why we are doing this job.
Now the farm was a big five farm, so there are lions and other predators all around, quite exciting but you never walk around on your own.. We didn’t actually see any of the Lions, but we saw some massive spoor, quite glad we didn’t see the lion.
When staying on a big five farm we have to make a boma to stay in otherwise you are literally just waiting to be eaten by some nocturnal predator. Every little noise in the night is like “what was that”, lying there in your sleeping bag listening to all sorts of creatures and animals coming to smell and see who we are.
We went to moholoholo for some lectures and to see some of the rehabilitated animals.
We went and searched around the moholohlo reserve for snares, as payment for our lectures yesterday. Two guys who were from Holland joined us on our patrol, they wanted to see what we do and how we operate.
They were in for a big shock, they were exhausted after our day of patrolling, what we don’t realise is that we are actually really fit and have got a lot stronger over the past couple of weeks.
The two guys from Holland were really appreciative and told us that we really do work real hard to find these snares, and that anti poaching isn’t as easy as it sounds.
This instantly made us all feel really good!
27th to the 1st
We were given training for our first aid level 3 course. We all had to learn a thick book of procedures and medical terms.
After four days of lectures we were made to do practical exams and on the 1st of the month we did our written examination!
Woke up this morning and were told to pack our kit bags and get our P.T kits on and jump on the bakkie, they drove us 27kilometres out of town and dropped us of and told us to run back to town! So we all ran and ran and ran and ran! And 5 kms outside of Hoedspruit we were given our fully loaded Kit bags and told to run the last 5kms with our Kit bags!
What a day! But this was the last and final test, we had completed our training! What a relief!
Im sorry I couldn’t go into more detail about the training, but if I told you guys everything, id probably have to write a small novel!
I hope you enjoyed reading about what were doing, we now have seven days off to relax and then we come back to Hoedspruit to do our first 16 day patrol! Once I have finished my 16 day patrol I will post some Pics and a write up of how it went and what we got up to!