Determining the medical readiness of game rangers in the Namibian austere Environment.

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Namibia University of Science and Technology


Wildlife poaching provides a serious threat to conservation and eco‐tourism development. Antipoaching activities have led to increased poacher‐ranger conflicts which have caused injuries and deaths on both sides. Rangers are faced with many perils ranging from being attacked by communities and poachers, the wildlife they protect as well as the harsh environment that they operate in, which can lead to injuries, illnesses and death. In order to reduce morbidity and mortality, rangers need to be able to perform initial stabilisation and care when a medical emergency in the field occurs. The main aim of this study was to determine whether anti‐poaching operatives and game rangers are equipped to deal with the unique medical emergencies facing them in the often remote and inhospitable Namibian rural environment. Little or no research was found regarding medical readiness of game rangers and their ability to adequately perform initial casualty care in the field, considering their unique workplace challenges. Furthermore, no information could be found on the availability and the adequacy of first aid supplies and equipment to perform such medical duties. This study used a descriptive non‐experimental design to determine which medical emergencies were most common in field ranger duties and their medical readiness to deal with such emergencies. Convenience sampling was used to conduct surveys amongst rangers and organisations which employ them. Additionally, a usage and attitude survey was undertaken to establish the most required contents for a personal first aid field kit for field rangers. The analysis is based on 115 medical readiness surveys and 69 field kit surveys. Most rangers in Namibia’s remote areas were found to lack first aid training and equipment to deal with medical emergencies, yet the occurrence of injuries and illnesses were very frequent and often serious. The nearest healthcare facilities are often far away and may be insufficient to provide definitive management to a ranger that is seriously injured or ill in the field. Furthermore, Emergency Medical Services in most rural areas are unreliable and rangers depend on own transport, sometimes using a donkey cart, to reach a medical facility. Due to the distinctive challenges that rangers face, standard first aid programmes and kits do not meet their unique requirements. Operating in a wilderness or remote area rangers will not only need extensive knowledge of common injuries and illnesses to care for themselves or a colleague, but they will also need to rely only on the equipment they carry with them. Therefore, rangers must be adequately trained and equipped for emergencies in the field. The study recommends a portable first aid kit based on the most common injuries and illnesses from this unique sector of work.



Medical readiness, Game rangers, Namibian austere Environment


Bauer, C. (2020). Determining the medical readiness of game rangers in the Namibian austere Environment [Unpublished masters thesis]. Namibia University of Science and Technology.