Michaela Butorova, Partnerships Manager, Save the Rhino International
Like me, I’m sure you love exploring the wild. Discovering a place that you’ve not been to before and taking it all in: fresh smells, new landscapes, nature’s sounds. For many of us this is a welcome break from our usual lives, time to slowly let our eyes adjust from the squinting that comes with looking at a screen all day. But for some, it’s not simply gazing out into the wilderness, it’s actively scanning the horizon for danger. This is the life of a wildlife ranger.
Rangers spend their days patrolling vast, rugged wilderness, and while this might sound incredible, it’s certainly not a light-hearted job.
Every day, a ranger walks between 15 and 20 km, often carrying a rucksack containing everything that’s needed for three-weeks in a remote field location. This isn’t just a test of endurance. As the people on the ground ready to stop poaching attacks, rangers are coming face to face with dangerous poaching gangs, ready to do whatever it takes to get their hands on a rhino’s horn. The threat of a poaching gang is present every day, so rangers must be well-trained, well-equipped, and constantly on high alert to not only protect wildlife, but themselves and their colleagues.
Today, 31 July, is World Ranger Day, a day to celebrate the incredible work of wildlife rangers and remember those that are no longer with us. In the last ten years, more than 1,000 rangers have lost their lives in the line of duty. Despite this shocking statistic, rangers don’t get the recognition they deserve. Many began in the job because of a love for nature and wildlife, but now they are on the frontline, often without all the equipment and training they need.
In the past year, we’ve worked closely with teams across Africa and Asia to improve the day-to-day lives of rangers:
- in South Africa, we purchased 130 camping kits for Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, helping the teams to do their jobs effectively with simple items like sleeping bags, gas cookers, tents and power banks. While these might seem like your usual camping staples, the basic items are often the ones needed most
- in Indonesia, we’re working to make sure that the Rhino Protection Units protecting the two rarest rhino species are able to keep going. Covid-19 has meant that the future of these critical units is at risk. On their patrols through the humid Indonesian jungles, they monitor rhinos, remove snares, and reduce habitat loss. Without them, securing a future for Javan and Sumatran rhinos would be extremely difficult
- in Kenya, we worked with partners to secure life insurance for rangers across the Laikipia region, to help with peace of mind for rangers and their families if an injury, or worse, happens
We couldn’t provide this crucial support for rangers without the help of our incredible partners and donors like Century 21 South Africa. Believing we are ‘stronger together’, the Century 21 South Africa team were keen to join Save the Rhino in the fight against poaching, pledging to donate €10,000 in 2020 for rhinos and the ‘warriors’ protecting them. With Century 21 South Africa’s passionate support, we can continue providing vital resources to anti-poaching initiatives across Africa and Asia, at a time when they’re needed more than ever.
The brave men and women that protect our wonderful wildlife are true heroes. Without their dedication, the risk to many animals today would be much worse. Rangers put their lives on the line every single day. On World Ranger Day, we’re celebrating them. Wherever you are in the world, take a moment to think about rangers on your next outdoor adventure.
To celebrate World Ranger Day and find out more about the incredible work rangers do to keep rhinos safe, register to join Save the Rhino for an exciting online stream of events: https://www.savetherhino.org/get-involved/events/world-ranger-day-live/