In November of 2016, I had the pleasure of traveling to the Amakhala Game Reserve in South Africa, where I spent time with the Rangers who call Amakhala home. Over the 10 days that I spent there, almost every waking moment was spent patrolling, bonding, and training with the Rangers. I brought with me on this trip 13 years of experience as an Infantry Marine, instructor, and hunter. These skills served me well throughout my career and I was pleased to pass my knowledge on.
While with the Rangers, I assisted in perfecting their bush skills, patrolling, observation, ambushing, and fire and movement. We spent two days on the firing range, honing the skills of accuracy and speed shooting. These new skills led to a higher degree of confidence in both themselves and their weapon systems. The Rangers themselves are in a class all their own. They are men whose hearts beat only to protect, whose resolve in unwavering, and whose sacrifices are constant. It is not often that you find men of this caliber outside of the military. To look at it again, it is clear the war they are fighting is not unlike the wars that I, myself, fought these last 13 years. Often the enemy will strike before it is known to those fighting whom the enemy is, they hide among the people and can surround you at any time. The level of vigilance that a war like this requires can only be handled by men with the greatest of professionalism.
Together, with these men, I formed memories that will last a lifetime. From being charged by both elephants and rhinos, to braais, and chasing poachers all night, the memories I made will be cherished. Sitting around the fire one night, I was told by a Ranger that he wanted to be like me and that I was his hero. While I was moved by what he told me, the truth is that I have always wanted to be like these men and that they are my heros. I am honored to have been a part of helping Amakhala grow in its capabilities, and cannot wait until I can return.
Will Smith jr
Global Conservation Force
Operation Rhino Shield Initiative
Anti Poaching Instructor
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