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Rangers Receive Much-Deserved Recognition

  • Friday, July 31, 2015
  • Nairobi, Kenya
On World Ranger Day, Rangers Receive Much-Deserved Recognition for Difficult Work They Do

Fifty-two park rangers around the world lost their lives in the line of duty in the past 12 months. On World Ranger Day, AWF highlights the difficult but necessary job performed by these courageous men and women. Photo credit: Billy Dodson

Rampaging wildlife. Poachers and, sometimes, rebel forces. Harsh climatic conditions. The job of the wildlife ranger may vary by day, but whether conducting ecological monitoring or arresting poachers, one factor remains the same: how difficult the job can be.

On July 31, World Ranger Day, African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) honors all the brave men and women who risk their lives every day to protect wildlife and conserve nature across Africa. According to the International Ranger Federation and the Thin Green Line Foundation, 52 park rangers around the world lost their lives in the line of duty in the past 12 months.

“It takes a special person to put on a ranger uniform and go into the bush every day to protect wildlife,” says Dr. Philip Muruthi, vice president for species protection at the African Wildlife Foundation. “Wildlife rangers are literally on the front lines of the poaching and trafficking war—but in addition to those dangers, they may also confront aggressive wildlife, local community members encroaching upon protected areas or some other unexpected occurrence. At any given moment, a ranger must be prepared to act as a soldier, a law enforcement officer, a community liaison, a naturalist or even a medic.”

AWF regularly supports rangers across Africa to ensure they are well-equipped and fully trained to be able to do their jobs. Among the support AWF has provided:

  • Training in technology-based ecological monitoring. Rangers learn to use handheld GPS-enabled devices to record wildlife sightings and poachers camps and, later, analyze that data to inform future patrols. This year alone, AWF has trained rangers in the use of the CyberTracker handheld device and Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (or SMART) in Campo Ma’an National Park in Cameroon, Lake Mburo National Park in Uganda, and Bili–Uele Protected Area Complex in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
  • Equipment, uniforms and field gear. Rangers receive smartphones, binoculars, uniforms, boots and food rations so they are properly outfitted for patrols. In Simien Mountains National Park in Ethiopia, AWF in July donated GPS devices, binoculars, Gore-Tex jackets and trousers, warm gloves and hats, and boots.
  • Housing. The very nature of their job requires wildlife rangers to live in remote locales, away from their families, while they are working. AWF has therefore funded the construction of ranger housing and outposts, which in some cases have also included solar panels and water tanks to provide for greater comfort and working capacity. In 2011 – 2012, AWF renovated 12 ranger houses in Kenya’s Samburu landscape and built additional ranger outposts in some of the national reserves in the landscape. In the Kilimanjaro landscape, AWF has supplied prefabricated ranger outposts where troops reside during their work postings.
  • Specialized training. AWF has tailored training for the specific needs of the wildlife authority or location. Because of the high level of insecurity in Bouba N’Djida National Park in Cameroon and DRC’s Bili–Uele, for example, we partnered with environmental security firm Maisha Consulting to give security training such as hand-to-hand combat, tactical maneuvering and camouflage. AWF worked with Kenya Wildlife Service and Tanzania’s Wildlife Division to select and train handlers to learn how to work with ivory detection dogs, which will be placed at two trafficking chokepoints in those countries. In Zambia, AWF provided support to local partner Game Rangers International to assist Zambia Wildlife Authority in its intelligence work.
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