35 ecoguards took part in training to improve their operational skills

February 15, 2024
35 ecoguards took part in training to improve their operational skills

From October 11 to November 16, 2023, with technical support from Chengeta Wildlife, 35 ecoguards stayed at the Bekongo center for multi-disciplinary training aimed at improving their operational and human capacities to face the new challenges of conserving and protecting the Salonga National Park.

Participants from all six of the park’s stations (Monkoto, Anga, Mondjoku, Mundja, Watshikengo and Yokelelu) were selected for a refresher course to improve their operational capabilities not only in the execution of SNP surveillance and protection, but also in interactions with the park’s riparian populations.

At the Bekongo training site, 30km upstream from Monkoto HQ on the Momboyo river, 5 trainers took turns to provide instruction and exercises in sports, tactics, topography, human rights and community involvement, health, tight order, wildlife and the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART).

While sport helped strengthen physical and moral capacities, tactical training improved technical and operational capabilities, while weapons training focused on the carrying and handling of weapons.

In addition, topography training enabled participants to master navigation tools (compass and GPS) and practice forest orientation, while the “Human Rights” module provided knowledge for a better understanding of rights and obligations in all circumstances, while thanks to the “Health” module, they were able to learn how to administer first aid care.

Training on the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) provided information on how to use new-generation communication devices to exchange data on different digital platforms for analysis and referencing. Overall, the training also enhanced ecoguards’ knowledge of the wildlife they are responsible for monitoring and protecting.

Commenting on the session, the Chengeta Focal Point was delighted by the willingness to learn and the team spirit displayed by the ecoguards from the six stations, which are far apart and have few opportunities to meet.

Of the original 35 participants, 26 were actually assessed. The organizers attribute this loss to a few cases of illness, one withdrawal and two cases of indiscipline, which were duly punished. Of the initial group, 19 ecoguards received a certificate and were certified, while 7 who were unable to achieve the required average only received an attestation of participation.

The support agreement with SNP provides for annual refresher courses to professionalize the Salonga ecoguard corps.

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