On a cold morning earlier this month, the ZAWA base at Chinyunyu town looked more like a bus terminal than an operational centre. Thirty young men and women were spread out around the base with their luggage, waiting. Dressed brightly and talking in hushed tones amongst themselves. All looked slightly expectant. Apprehensive even. But they weren’t going anywhere. They had applied to become Village Scouts and had been invited to attend a gruelling 3-day selection trial to see who might be worthy of attending 3 months of paramilitary training run by ZAWA’s top trainers at Chunga Training Center in Kafue National Park. The graduates of this course will be employed by the Mpanshya Community Resource Board as Village Scouts on Rufunsa Conservancy. BioCarbon Partners will be sponsoring their training.
A “Village Scout” as defined in Zambia under the Wildlife Act as an individual community member who has undergone training in law enforcement and wildlife management, who usually works outside National Parks under the supervision of a Community Resources Board and Zambia Wildlife Authority. They’re an incredibly valuable asset to ZAWA as they often form the primary link between protected areas and the nearby areas home to both people and wildlife.
BioCarbon Partners has chosen to support the training and employment of Village Scouts as part of its commitment to building capacity of local communities to manage their resources. The Zambia Wildlife Authority, as one of our key partners, will reap the benefits of increased security along the perimeter of one Zambia’s jewels: the lower Zambezi National Park.
The training went well. There were 8km runs, push-ups at 1am, drills and just about every physically demanding excercise you might imagine. Not forgetting an amusing 10 minute challenge to erect an ancient and barely functional tent loaned to ZAWA by the Zambian National Service.
If you’re picturing the person running all of this as a grizzled old, white, crew-cut drill sergeant from those cliched films, then don’t. The man of the day here was Instructor Bright Nkoma, a young Zambian professional who kept these hopefuls on their toes, both literally and figuratively. By the end of the three days he had them marching and drilling like a well-oiled machine.
The star 12 performers during this three day selection will be selected and notified of their success. The training is due to begin in October, so watch this space!
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