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NKWE Tactical Training Academy Officially Opens

The ceremony went off without a hitch. On Friday, April 26, 2013, the inaugural class of proud recruits received their diplomas as the Nkwe Tactical Training Academy in the Lapalala Wilderness Reserve officially opened its doors. Many of the newly-designated Rhino Monitor graduates will go on to advanced training in wildlife management, surveillance, crime scene investigation and small arms tactics as they continue their careers as field rangers. The academy is the cornerstone of PROJECT: Save the Rhino.

“This is a proud day for me and conservationists everywhere,” says Wayne Bisbee. He is the president of the Bisbee’s Fish & Wildlife Conservation Fund, the non-profit organization underwriting the efforts to stop poaching of threatened rhinoceros on private reserves in South Africa. “Once we reach full capacity, the academy will be graduating up to 100 new rangers a year and their presence will be a major deterrent on the brutal poaching of these incredible animals."

“We’re going to take the fight to those criminals preying on rhinos and force them to give up or go elsewhere,” Bisbee adds. “The academy graduates are highly-motivated, well-trained and certified, plus the creation of this new force will give a major economic boost to the region. Today is the dawn of a great new era in South African wildlife management.”

Guest Speakers

Simon Rood

The academy is run by Simon Rood, who started the Nkwe (which means leopard in Afrikans) Wildlife & Security Services. With his former military background and long experience in wildlife security management, Rood is well-qualified to oversee the NTTA operation. Rood’s partner, Sergeant Major Boy John Mashabane, will be directly in charge of recruit training. Mashabane is another military veteran who spent 12 years working in Kruger Park.

Jack Greeff

Widely recognized as one of the best tactical trainers in the country, Greeff’s military background in special forces and vast knowledge of anti-poaching tactics has had a tremendous influence on NWSS and subsequently the academy’s curriculum. An agreement between the two organizations mandates the same high standards for ground anti-poaching operations. Under Greeff’s leadership, Kruger Park has benefitted from this professional approach with a much higher success rate in curtailing poaching activity.

Anton Walker

As the manager of Lapalala Wilderness Reserve and the son of well-known conservationist Clive Walker, Anton will oversee the rhino monitoring system to ensure all animals are accounted for. He is a strong advocate for effective security to safeguard threatened rhinoceros. The father and son recently co-authored Rhino Keepers, a book that examines the history of rhino poaching and conservation.

John Baker

Baker is a retired conservation law enforcement officer who is now involved with accredited training. As a consultant he will moderate and assess NTTA training to ensure it complies with SASSETA government standards. NTTA recruits receive credits for training that is recognized throughout South Africa.

Matthys Kleyn

This experienced ex-South African policeman and canine handler is currently working with AMKP in Afghanistan. His comments centered on the capability of imprinted dogs in detecting rhino horns and weapons carried by suspected poachers. With Kleyn’s assistance, NTTA will explore the options of incorporating canine training and detection capabilities into its standard ground operations.