World Ranger Day 2017
31 July is World Ranger Day, a time to celebrate the personal courage and – all too often – commemorate the sacrifice made by wildlife rangers in the line of duty.
Across Africa and Asia, the number of rhinos worldwide is still rising – thanks to the dedicated efforts of rangers. But in some regions, sharply escalating poaching is leading to worrying declines and, more than ever, rangers are under threat from ruthless poaching networks who are prepared to kill for rhino horn.
In just a decade, more than 1,000 wildlife rangers have lost their lives in the line of duty. Rangers are the guardians of our wildlife. They’re the heroes on the front line of conservation. Rangers save rhinos – every day.
When it comes to saving rhinos, we know what works. Well trained, well equipped and highly motivated rangers. It’s the unsexy stuff they need the most – the essentials that aren’t very exciting, but are vital. Good quality socks for walking up to 12 hours a day. Boots that can withstand tough terrain come rain or shine. Backpacks to carry their overnight camping kit. First Aid kits that, one day, could save a ranger’s life.
Paimolo Bwalya is Head of Rhino Monitoring in Zambia’s North Luangwa National Park. While anti-poaching rangers work round the clock to protect the Park’s rhinos from poachers, Paimolo’s team is tasked with tracking and identifying each individual rhino and building a picture of their behaviour and breeding. He explains:
You have to leave your family for a long time but knowing and protecting the rhinos like I do, it’s worth it. I know their personalities very well and see them grow. It’s a privilege to learn about them and be so close. We must keep them safe.