Cape Town - Visitor and overall wildlife safety in the Cape Region's national parks, and Table Mountain National Park specifically, will be improved thanks to extensive new Environmental Management Inspectorate (EMI) training, completed by 119 SANParks rangers from the Cape Region alone.
The rangers completed backlog of Grade 5 EMI training along with 356 other rangers across all the 19 national parks in the parks division (not including Kruger National Park).
The 119 rangers from the Western Cape received their EMI certificates on Thursday morning, 12 November.
The South African Wildlife College - situated in the Kruger National Park in Limpopo - sponsored and conducted the EMI training on site in the rangers' respective parks - Table Mountain National Park, West Coast National Park, Agulhas National Park, Bontebok National Park and Tankwa-Karoo National Park.
SEE PICS: Kruger officials receive specially built quad vehicles for rhino poaching patrol
The rangers acquired skills which will equip them with environmental law enforcement capacity, in the fight against mountain and environmental crime, as well as crimes against visitors in the parks.
SANParks CE Fundisile Mketeni awarded the rangers their certificates saying it's high time SANParks' field rangers receive proper training for the dangerous line of work they choose to do.
Mketeni thanked the rangers for their willingness to protect SA's resources. "I'm proud of you for carrying the vision of SANParks. We appreciate your service to SANParks and the country, and for protecting our resources for our children."
Fagan Goodheart, field ranger in the Cape Point sections of Table Mountain National Park, says he is thankful for the law enforcement skills he has acquired through the EMI training, as they face many dangers and serious criminal situations in their day-to-day work.
Overall wildlife safety has become a major concern in all SANParks over the past years.
Although rhino poaching is the most critical concern in South Africa at the moment, other wildlife crimes - including the arson, abalone poaching and reptile smuggling - need combating.
READ: 5 Wildlife poaching facts that will leave you cold
In Table Mountain National Park, crimes against visitors have become a serious concern over the past two years.
In the latest incident, a Cape Town cyclist was beaten and threatened with a knife on Table Mountain on Sunday, 1 November. Goolam Hassan, 41, said the attack left him shaken and apprehensive of returning to the popular trails of the national park.
READ: Attackers stole my love of the mountain - cyclist
Table Mountain is the only of SA's national parks to have a dedicated visitor safety crew. This crew of 60 will now be assisted on a law enforcement level by the EMI graduates of the park, who say the training has given them the needed skills to deal with criminal activity professionally.
A lot of emphasis is placed on the protection of South Africa's natural resources for future generations to come. Unathi Ngoko, field ranger in the Newlands section of Table Mountain National Park, says she hopes her new EMI training will help her leave a legacy of conservation.
The now qualified EMI field rangers celebrated their achievement in #ProudlySA style at the event on Thursday morning. The dedicated SANParks choir set the tone for the celebrations...
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