Guest blog post from Mike Brewer
I retired from the Police as a Detective Sergeant in 2015. I wasn’t ready for a pipe and slippers just yet, and felt that the skills and experience I had picked up during thirty years as a cop must be transferable. I just wasn’t sure where. Someone recommended an organisation called Veterans for Wildlife, who may be interested in my skill set. I sent in my CV and was asked if I would travel to Cameroon to deliver Law enforcement training to Eco guards in the Dja Biosphere reserve; a UNESO World Heritage Centre. The area is home to many species of primates, forest elephants and African Grey Parrots. They are all the targets of poachers, and the Eco Guards work tirelessly to protect them.
Veterans for Wildlife is an international charity committed to the protection of world’s critically endangered species and preserving ecosytems. Working in partnership with Government’s, NGOs and local stakeholders, they operate to counter the global illegal wildlife trade. The charity has earned a reputation for providing efficient solutions to support wildlife conservation programmes.
Their primary work involves developing the capacity of those at the forefront of protecting nature, the rangers. Rangers work in dangerous and complex environments and require multiple skill sets to operate, yet they are often under resourced and inadequately trained. Veterans for Wildlife develops the capacity of anti-poaching units through training, mentoring programmes and provides long term sustainable solutions through leadership and training the trainer initiatives.
They have concentrated a lot of their work in South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, Cameroon and Belize.
Volunteering with V4W seemed to tick so many boxes and I jumped at the chance to help them in a small way. Having previously spent a month in Mozambique after Cyclone Idai, with Re:Act Disaster relief charity, I was aware that having a portable system to get clean drinking water was crucial. I was aware of Water-to-Go and bought myself a bottle for the trip. The Dja has a lot of water, but you wouldn’t want to drink it without it going through a filtration system.
My Water-to-Go bottle fitted the bill perfectly, keeping me safe and healthy throughout the trip. I was sold on the system. The filter eliminated any harmful bugs or contaminants from the water meaning I had safe drinking water all the time.
I have since been to Belize where I delivered training to Officials from the Fisheries and Forestry departments Belize Defence Force and Police; always with my Water-to-Go bottle by my side.
I have since been back to Cameroon three more times and don’t need to worry about carrying bottled water in single-use plastic, which, when working in the Conservation space is a real bonus.
I now carry my Water-to-Go bottle in the UK whenever I am out and about and just love the fact that I’m helping to protect the environment by not using single-use plastic.
As the world starts to open up I will be going back to Cameroon in June, with more deployments planned for later in the year.
To keep up with all of Mike’s adventures and training trips, check out his social media channel.
We are pleased to be now working in partnership with Veterans for Wildlife, and will be supporting them to help keep their volunteers safe whilst on training trips, and will be raising awareness of the work they do.