Wildlife Poisoning Crime Forensics & Pesticide Training

We offer training courses on our fields of expertise and will gladly address any inquiry or adapt to your needs.

Our focus areas are:

Wildlife Poisoning Crime Scene Forensics and Proactive and Reactive aspects of Wildlife Poisoning Prevention. This training entails a short course


Presented by Tim Snow, (M. Env. Dev) and as a conservation based course, this training falls under CATHSSETA, (Culture and Arts, Tourism and Hospitality and Sports, Education and Training Authority) and additionally or alternatively it is relevant to SASSETA (Safety and Security Education Training Authority).

Training is targeted and designed for South African National Qualification Framework levels 2 to 7 field rangers and rangers, but up to level 8/9 managers (Masters degree) may benefit from attendance. The course take two / three days training course comprising: Theory: 10 lessons, Practical: 3 lessons. The additional time allocation is intended for situations where translation is needed, or for courses run exclusively for Further Education Trainees (NQF 2 to 4). The notional hours are comprised of course attendance, self-study of resource material, practical learning and work place learning and experience and make up 60 hours / 6 NQF credits.

Overview of Training Course

Pesticide abuse in poaching is increasing, whether for animal parts or for protein harvesting and it may be a Rangers role to address and investigate pesticide crime scenes, bringing with it unique challenges and hazards. This course intends to bring ranger competence to a standard which enables competent investigation,

  1. enable proper sample and specimen collection during crime scene investigation
  2. ensure human health and safety standards are met,
  3. promotes greater chemical crime scene investigation and competence, and
  4. enhances probability of competent case prosecution.

On completion of the course the ranger exhibit competence in the following:

  • Outcome 1: Agrochemical basics

Pesticides are used in our daily lives. Rangers will learn about responsible pesticide purchasing, transport, storage, control and use; including Health and Safety issues and safe disposal, to enable broad comprehension of the risk management along the use chain.

This section provides a PowerPoint based lecture as overview of pesticides; the classes, compounds, toxicity to mammals, birds and fish, and terminology used such as, half-life, toxicity and lethal dosage. Students will understand chemical product labels and how to interpret information and have a basic knowledge to enable field identification of certain pesticides.

  • Outcome 2: The extent of poisoning

Unlike the safe and responsible use envisaged by a responsible farmer, pesticides are abused through ignorance and negligence, or for environmental and wildlife crime by poachers. The current extent and status quo (in Southern Africa) will be illustrated and shown, students receive an overview of the databases kept and rangers will be enabled to understand and identify the pesticides most abused in wildlife crimes.

  • Outcome 3: Practical RhODIS DNA sample collection; physical matches and identification

This course component consists of a PowerPoint lecture and later; a practical demonstration of the Rhino DNA Index System explaining how it works and how it is used.

  • Outcome 4: Practical crime scene investigation

The theory and practice of wildlife crime scene investigation, from first arrival at scene, first responder actions, handling of evidence items, fingerprints/footprints/DNA items/, photography at the scene, features to identify the scene from photography, GPS use, and collection of carcase evidence versus postmortem.

Poison crime scenes are seldom recognised for what they are; with the result that much evidence is destroyed or ignored through ignorance. A severe hazard exists when chemicals and pesticides are handled inappropriately. Rangers will be guided from the crime scene to court room.

Basic investigative procedures require methodical application of procedures. To enable full grasp of this, trainees will be led through:

    • A checklist of actions
    • A checklist of equipment
    • Keeping a pocket reminder notebook or diary
    • Drafting a scene summary
    • Completing charge sheets and writing coherent statements
    • First appearance in court

In summary, this section is a “back to basics” section to take trainees through do’s and don’ts of investigation procedures.

  • Outcome 5: Sampling and evidence collection for Forensic pathology and toxicology

Pathology is the science of the causes and effects of diseases, especially the branch of medicine that deals with the laboratory examination of samples of body tissue for diagnostic or forensic purposes.

Toxicology is the science concerned with the effects and detection of poisons. It involves observing and reporting symptoms, mechanisms, detection and treatments of toxic substances, in particular relation to poisoning.

Sampling of various organs and specimens for pathology and toxicology will be explained and demonstrated, and students attending the course should be able to competently assist a veterinarian on site, or do basic specimen collection themselves after the course.

  • Outcome 6: Forensic photography

Students will be shown what to photograph and how to do it, in order that the photographic material collected shows clearly what it intends to illustrate. This includes size and scale, placement, light and shadows; and colour.

  • Outcome 7: Handling animals, intoxicated or dead.

This covers the basics of managing animals stressed by poisoning, including features and behaviours to anticipate; and what to do with those animals. It also covers clearing of the crime scene by the investigating officer and the expectations and responsibilities of other staff on the scene. Attention is drawn to Rabies, Anthrax and the hazards of handling such mortalities, including the need to inform veterinary authorities. Finally, attention is given to safe disposal of poisoned carcasses.

  • Outcome 8: Handling samples

This component includes sterility and cleanliness of samples, marking, cooling and storage for transportation, and the chain of custody and evidence from the crime scene to the laboratory; and later use of results as court evidence.

  • Outcome 9: Reference sheets

Several poison reference sheets have been developed by Wildlife Poisoning Prevention & Conflict Resolution (132-047NPO) and Associates for field use, to guide investigators to identification of toxins from symptoms shown by victim birds or animals. These sheets will be explained.

  • Outcome 10: Managing the human aspect of animal/ pet/ wildlife poisonings after the crime

Dealing with distraught animal owners, the sensitivities and the subsequent potentials that investigation and support staff must be aware of.

  • Outcome 11: Legislation

Pesticides and poisons are controlled under various sets of Legislation. Rangers will be guided through a variety of laws, regulations and ordinances to enable them (with future support) to lay charges correctly and competently, and to know where to find help.

  • Outcome 12: Legal toxins in Human/Wildlife conflict management

Poisons are abused to kill predators and birds illegally. Very few toxins are registered for this purpose, with resulting widespread abuse of pesticides for this purpose. The issue, consequences and the pitfalls for conservationists will be explained. Systems thinking in wildlife conflict management.

  • Outcome 13: Incident report forms

A document has been developed to enable reporting to be collated, and used to encourage accountability by chemical companies for what has gone wrong, and to request changes that could prevent future poisonings. Rangers will be guided how to complete and submit these reports.

After each course, trainees are assessed and reports are submitted to employers and whatever appropriate authority.


With better investigation come more information, better prosecutions and better toxicology results. With that factual toxicology information we are able to narrow the investigation to identify the pesticide abused by active ingredient, product, registration holding company and distributor. We then are able to approach those companies to seek active, collaborative solutions and to enhance controls from point of sale to farmers and workers; to prevent theft of chemicals and hence pesticide abuses in poaching and wildlife crimes.


It costs roughly US $ 200 / ZA Rand 3 000 to train each ranger or field ranger, dependant on locality of the training. We will gladly discuss Corporate Sponsorship and sponsor benefits to enable fruitful and productive liaison with sponsors. We welcome any and all donations either via contact, or via the PayPal method available on our Support Us page.

For farmers we also offer training at commercial rates:

  • Responsible Pesticide Management on the farm including storage and management of farm chemicals.
  • Staff training for basic chemical safety and use.
  • Farmer training for knapsack or tractor drawn chemical spraying calibrations.

Please contact us for a quotation.