Vincent Barkas and his Protrack anti poaching game rangers are a bright spot amidst the battle fatigue from the deepening African Rhino and Wildlife poaching crisis.
Vincent Barkas founder of Protrack is a thriving hero of a dying breed, the endangered wildlife conservationist. Successfully passing on his vast bush knowledge, love and care for wildlife, and a deep sense of the diverse African community to all who will listen and become involved. In his world he understands and blends the Black and White cultures into a reality that is good for all especially the Wildlife.
During our Africa Wildlife Conservation Tour 2014 Patrick with Rhino Revolution introduced us to Vincent. Our respect for him grew immensely as we enjoyed a full day discussing the severe African Wildlife problem, understanding the roadblocks to long term solutions, and visiting his intense Game Ranger Boot camp. (Photos below)
Vincent’s roots run deep into Africa. He cares for all concerned, even the poachers, and his biggest passion and purpose is keeping Africa, Africa.
Margrit and I were lousy at spotting snares as Vincent walked us through this real life part of the training course. I realized it takes a pretty unique individual to be a ranger these days; part animal lover, part bushman, part mercenary with tons of courage to face big game and men with guns descending in helicopters, and the will to go on against all odds especially when coming upon a Rhino orphan standing vigil next to its hornless mother.
Vincent’s ProTrack organization is a highly effective on the ground training program with hundreds of rangers in the field serving in anti poaching units. They make a difference one animal at a time.
Facing heavily armed, highly organized poachers is just the tip of the iceberg. At first I looked at it as a simple problem to be solved by interested parties collaborating around a common goal.
People like Vincent have shown us the depths of the problems; cultural differences and mistrust, unsympathetic government leaders, poachers of all varieties from local bush meat vendors to international organized crime, and a world with all the answers from their limited point of view.
To collaborate in this environment even among the white conservationist community is a huge huge mountain to climb. From all we have met, Vincent gets it best. He says, “Black and white teams working together, you can’t beat them”.
In his world it works! What can we learn from Vincent? Realize through enough humility that there is a common goal, “We both love animals”! And there are huge different problems on each side that need true collaboration to solve.
I wish you could spend a day with Vincent?