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.
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.
2 of 27: The current crisis of environemntal crimes is having a hugely negative impact on the populations of iconic animals
3 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.
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.
5 of 27: Millions of animals, across numerous species, are killed every year by deadly wire snares that are hidden in the bush.
6 of 27: Bushmeat poaching is popular in central and western Africa.
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.
8 of 27: Orphans of iconic species, that are left by the paoching epidemic, require special care and attention.
9 of 27: It is the rangers in the protected areas that form the frontline of this current conservation crisis.
10 of 27: Rangers are expected to work under harsh conditions, often with little support, equipment, training or communications.
11 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.
12 of 27: Rangers are required to patrol both during the day and night under complex legal frameworks.
13 of 27: The tracks of poachers following a rhino spoor.
14 of 27: Good communications are vital for effective law enforment that counters poaching.
15 of 27: Aerial support, using fixed-wing spotter aircraft and helicopters that can rapidly deploy ranger teams, is critical in the fight against poaching.
16 of 27: Dogs have become a game-changer in the fight against poaching and can be used for detection, tracking and confrontation.
17 of 27: Tracking poachers is extremely difficult and requires extreme skill and training.
18 of 27: Rangers have to be ever-alert as they patrol given the risk of running into dangerous animals and armed poaching groups.
19 of 27: Excellent crime scene management is a must in ensuring successful conviction of poachers.
20 of 27: A rhino poacher that has been arrested is watched over by a ranger.
21 of 27: Rangers require discipline, fitness, leadership skills and the ability to work as part of a team.
22 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.
23 of 27: Practical training re-enforces all theoretical training.
24 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.
25 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.
26 of 27: Sport is an effective release and relaxation activity for rangers that have faced immense pressures from patrolling at the frontline of conservation.
27 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.