Gaize County is the 3rd location for our capacity training workshops in Changtang this year. I am happy to have forestry officials and rangers of Gaize and Cuoqin Counties attending our training class. Gaize County is the biggest in Ali Prefecture, extending in the north of Changtang. Few people live here, and it's a perfect paradise for wild animals.
One year has passed since we came here last time. I remember that Alun - an old man on his 70s - was there in our training class last year. I have a clear memory that he was wearing a traditional pastoral chuba - a long sheepskin coat made of thick wool - with one sleeve on his arm and the other on his waist. A Tibetan dagger was also tied to his waist. Time and sand had left wrinkles on the old man's face but he turned them into kind and lovely signs with his smile. With his venerable age it must have been tough for him to work as a ranger. I remember the words he told me: “I wish my children to be rangers too”. During the training, he listened very carefully and asked a lot of questions. He wanted to convey to his sons what he had learned and train them for this job, which impressed me a lot.
This year overall 62 rangers have joined our training course in Garco. As soon as I entered the classroom I tried to recognize the face of that old man among the attendants, but he was not there. Together with my colleagues of the training team we started explaining how to use the basic equipment (digital cameras, GPS devices, telescopes, etc.). Trainees showed great interest in these devices and immediately recognized their advantage for easily recording cases of wild animals that died for diseases or in abnormal circumstances. Explaining the usage of GPS devices was a bit more difficult. However, despite only few of them understood Chinese, they all managed to learn basic steps by following the icons on the GPS.
In the afternoon we went through the content of last year training and administered a questionnaire. During the assessment, I inadvertently referred to Alun, the old man, and a ranger in the first row told me that Alun’s son has come to the training instead of him. His words came to my mind and I spotted a young man smiling nicely at me. He was also wearing two traditional pastoral braids like Alun did. They had the same smile. I was excited at learning he must have been his son.
The last day of training we practiced outdoor monitoring skills. During the picnic I chatted with Lajie, the second of Alun’s children. He told me that every child in his family was fascinated by his father and wished to become a reserve ranger once grown up. He also added that his younger brother was even more passionate about this job and he hoped they could go patrolling the nature reserve together soon.
In the remote region of Changtang children often follow their fathers’ footsteps and carry on the job of protecting their wild and untainted nature. Continuing their family tradition and love for their hometown and native places, they are proud to shoulder the responsibility of protecting wildlife and their unique environment.
In May 2012, the Tibetan Forestry Bureau (TFB) invited delegates from five provincial-level agencies and two prefecture-level forestry bureaus to review WCS capacity building initiative for reserve staff and community-based rangers in Changtang grasslands. All delegates agreed on its importance in order to achieve long-term impact in the reserve management.
During August and September 2012, in partnership with the Ali and Naqu Prefecture Forestry Bureaus, WCS organized training courses in six townships (Burang, Shiquanhe and Gaize in Ali prefecture, and Nyima, Xainza, and Naqu in Naqu Prefecture). Overall 297 people from the 12 counties in Changtang attended the trainings, with an increase of 46% from 2011. Of these, 266 were community-based rangers (accounting for 81% of the total) and 31 reserve officials (58%). Eight forestry bureaus sent at least one deputy director to participate in the training. Each training course had two parts specifically targeting rangers and reserve officials. Each course had both in-house lectures and outside field practice.
Encouraged by their positive outcome, WCS is working to continue these training programs also during 2012 in order to further enhance the technical capacity of community-based rangers and staff of the Changtang National Nature Reserve.