Three Observations From Our Wildlife Enforcement Trainings in Botswana
As we drove out of the airport, the high walls and electrified fences of Johannesburg quickly changed into the parched brown scrub and cacti of the northern South African bushveld at the end of its dry season.
In a few weeks this land will be a verdant green with the first rains of the season, all except for the grey mounds of the platinum mines – no amount of rain will turn them green…
Four hours later we arrived in bustling Gaborone, Botswana’s capital city.
We drove about 50km straight out to the police college in Otse and immediately met with Bill Clark, the INTERPOL Wildlife Law Enforcement course coordinator to begin preparations for the courses.
In the following two days I was struck by three things:
Firstly, the police college itself: A sprawling facility of classrooms, tennis courts, laboratory, library, Olympic swimming pool and marching grounds. I won’t slander the colleges I attended by naming them here, but what I can say is that they just do not compare to Botswana’s Police College.
The second thing which struck me; Botswanians are without doubt the friendliest people I have ever met. The cries of ‘Morning! Morning!’ accompanied by wide smiles ring throughout the campus as the police recruits who study there jog by.
Thirdly, and most importantly; The professionalism and composed manner in which the trainees at this IFAW/INTERPOL wildlife law enforcement training carried themselves.
With 27 in attendance there is a wonderful variety of people from across southern Africa.
It was immediately clear that these senior wildlife and law enforcement officers are united by a serious commitment to do their jobs well and learn how to do them better.
I’ll write more about the training sessions and subjects in a later post, for now let me convey how very excited I was to participate in this training.
We were able to interview many of the participants on video, the idea being to show the world that our battle on the front lines of wildlife trafficking is about to get much more difficult for those who kill and steal nature’s treasures from this region.
For more information on the International Fund for Animal Welfare effort to save animals in crisis around the world, visit http://ifaw.org