Village Game Scouts Finally Graduate
“At the beginning I felt nervous to have to spend my days amongst men and work with them in the training that seem to be for men, but my colleagues have been very supportive and throughout the training they have treated me as an equal and spoilt me once in a while,” she says with a gentle smile. “Am so thankful for their support which kept me going even when I felt like I was ready to quit and go home!” says Hellena.
During the graduation ceremony held at the College in Likuyu Seka Maganga just at the edge of Selous Game Reserve, TCO’s deputy Programme Coordinator for the Elephant Programme Mr. Asukile Kajuni said that WWF will continue to support the VGS through capacity strengthening and equipment because they play a key role in the fight against poaching. He thanked the Tanzania Government through its Ministry for Natural Resource and Tourism for agreeing to facilitate the training.
The VGS graduants expressed their gratitude for being part of the training and promised to give their all to make sure they are working towards zero poaching in the Selous Game Reserve and the protection of other natural resources around their villages.
They also expressed their concern that they needed to be identified by being given identity cards because without them they might not get the respect they deserve and people will not take them seriously. They also expressed the need to have weapons especially firearms for them to effectively handle the poachers who usually use machine guns and other heavy weapons. They are concerned that with only rungus and machetes they will not match the poachers. Another major concern was the allowances. A fact that the VGS are not paid any allowance was seen as a motivation killer among them.
They requested for even more sponsorship for such trainings to other VGS and village leaders for efficiency in their work.
The college that started in 1995 lacks equipment like tents, GPS and smart phones, binoculars and cameras to effectively carry out the training.
In Tanzania VGS are volunteers who receive short trainings and work in protecting natural resources. They are not allowed to use guns and work within specific Wildlife Management Areas.
WWF Tanzania has sponsored the training which will be facilitated in three intakes of three months each and each intake will have 25 trainees