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Chairman Talks: Hostile Environment Training & The Link Between Mental and Physical Health

All attendees of the hostile environment training

As one of the co-founders of SAVSIM CIC I am often asked what does Ranger training mean and more importantly why is it needed? We recently delivered a HEAT (Hostile Environment Awareness Training) to a team at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) with much success. Alongside these training programs, we also look at mental health #mentalhealth and team building/leadership program courses in the reserves we support and delivered one recently at a rhino reserve in South Africa. These courses aimed to bring the leadership team and the rangers/staff together and did so by delivering a program/ series of physical activities, team building and physical training exercises.

The Importance of Fitness to both mental and physical health

When it comes to both conservation and the well-being of veterans there are several crossovers. One of the most important being that of physical and mental health. Research over many years has shown a strong link between exercise and mental health with many common mental health issues such as both anxiety and depression being lessened as a result of living an active lifestyle. With SAVSIM and the work we achieve, we perfectly combine physical therapy and training courses with learning and counselling to ensure everyone has the tools necessary to overcome challenges.

Whether this be the mental health of veterans through our Warriors of Hope program or the use of training courses for our rangers. Everyone knows that a fit ranger is a thinking ranger; sweating together brings a sense of pride, achievement and self-respect, but also the leadership team gained a better understanding and respect of what’s needed by going through the activities. Feedback included comments such as:

“pushing the body to its limit during training simplifies the mission and task at hand and in this case, that the mission is protecting rhinos from being killed for illegal trade in their horns.” Throughout this entire process, the leadership team had a better understanding and respect of the many demands of being an anti-poaching ranger and the ongoing selfless commitment to preventing wildlife crime.

“Ultimately, daily fitness is vital to maintain a healthy mindset and continue the fight against Armed poachers.” The communication, understanding and respect between the rangers and the leadership team are immeasurable and the benefits of physical activity on mental health as impacted in a positive way on both the rangers and the leadership team. We have also been asked to repeat the program as new rangers are added by the leadership team who have seen the benefits and positive impact on morale of the course. If you would like to know more about us, please visit us on our website or follow us on Instagram @savsim_official

On behalf of the animals, we protect and the veterans we support.



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