Africa's Conservation Rangers

Africa’s rangers in the national parks and protected areas across the continent have to deal with an ever-increasing impact of poaching against the continents iconic wildlife.

These rangers need to patrol in remote wilderness areas under arduous conditions, where communication is a serious challenge and resource support is extremely scarce. They make enormous sacrifices and regularly place their lives at risk in ensuring the integrity and conservation of Africa's protected areas. Sadly, during the last decade, over 1000 rangers have sacrificed their lives for conservation.

It is time for us to realize that these rangers need our fullest support as the guardians of Africa’s iconic wildlife and the wider ecosystems that these animals live in. Without the rangers protection, the landscapes, the lion, elephant, rhino and countless other species will soon disappear and one of Africa’s greatest opportunities for sustainable job creation and revenue generation will also collapse.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer

1 of 27: A ranger patrols the large expanses of a protected area, monitoring animal species enecountered and also keeping a sharp look out for any signs of illegal activity.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer
2 of 27: The current crisis of environemntal crimes is having a hugely negative impact on the populations of iconic animals
 Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer3 of 27: The price of ivory has tripled in China over the last four years. Hopefully recent increased support from the Chinese will stop the trend of elephant poaching.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer
4 of 27: Poaching is not only negatively impacting animal populations, but there is also an increasing human cost as both rangers and poachers are killed during deadly shoot-outs.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer5 of 27: Millions of animals, across numerous species, are killed every year by deadly wire snares that are hidden in the bush.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer
6 of 27: Bushmeat poaching is popular in central and western Africa.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer
7 of 27: It is not only the animals that are targetted through paoching - vast tracts of forest with their hardwoods are being decimated by illegal logging.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer8 of 27: Orphans of iconic species, that are left by the paoching epidemic, require special care and attention.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer9 of 27: It is the rangers in the protected areas that form the frontline of this current conservation crisis.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer10 of 27: Rangers are expected to work under harsh conditions, often with little support, equipment, training or communications.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer11 of 27: In west and central Africa, rangers not only have to deal with poaching but also face risk from militia groups and illegal miners.
 Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer12 of 27: Rangers are required to patrol both during the day and night under complex legal frameworks.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer13 of 27: The tracks of poachers following a rhino spoor.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer14 of 27: Good communications are vital for effective law enforment that counters poaching.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer15 of 27: Aerial support, using fixed-wing spotter aircraft and helicopters that can rapidly deploy ranger teams, is critical in the fight against poaching. 

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer16 of 27: Dogs have become a game-changer in the fight against poaching and can be used for detection, tracking and confrontation.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer17 of 27: Tracking poachers is extremely difficult and requires extreme skill and training.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer18 of 27: Rangers have to be ever-alert as they patrol given the risk of running into dangerous animals and armed poaching groups.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer19 of 27: Excellent crime scene management is a must in ensuring successful conviction of poachers.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer20 of 27: A rhino poacher that has been arrested is watched over by a ranger.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer21 of 27: Rangers require discipline, fitness, leadership skills and the ability to work as part of a team.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer22 of 27: A solid basis of theoretical training is a must for rangers and this includes knowledge of the environment, the species, the legal framework and bushcraft.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer23 of 27: Practical training re-enforces all theoretical training.
 Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer24 of 27: Once rangers have been trained and are deployed, they should be supported by regular refresher training and in-field mentorship from experienced operators.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer25 of 27: Given the current increase of pressures faced by rangers, it is imperative that they are supported by a well structured ranger wellbeing program.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer26 of 27: Sport is an effective release and relaxation activity for rangers that have faced immense pressures from patrolling at the frontline of conservation.

Africas Rangers_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer27 of 27: Over the last decade, over 1000 rangers have died in the line of duty, yet the world takes little notice. We need to ensure maximum support for these teams and their families if we want our protected areas and iconic species to contine into the future.