Global World Ranger Day – a salute to the unsung heroes
Honouring the unsung heroes of conservation
Today, July 31, is World Ranger Day across the world, a worthy initiative of the International Ranger Foundation (IRF) that commemorates those killed or injured in the line of duty and celebrates these unsung heroes who dedicate their lives and often work under enormous threat to their personal safety to ensure the preservation of endangered species, natural habitats and cultural treasures.
Rangers on the frontline
The IRF defines a Ranger as a person involved in the practical protection and preservation of all aspects of wild areas, historical and cultural sites. As it is with their counterparts on every continent, South African game rangers -professionally trained men and women- are fighting for the future of a sustainable wildlife heritage across the country.
Joe Pietersen is one of the founders of Nkombe Rhino, an organisation with a focus on rhino conservation that is committed to sponsoring, supporting and motivating the members of its Anti Poaching Unit (APU) currently deployed in the African Savannah (Bush veld) to protect, track and set up advanced search patrols to intercept the pandemic of poaching incursions in the Greater Kruger National Park Biosphere. “These rangers are the front line of defence when it comes to wildlife crime,” said Pietersen speaking from Kruger. “Circumstances in the field are harsh, with extremely long hours, separation from families, threats from syndicates, low morale and high stress. They’re the ones on the ground, fighting tirelessly for the next generations to have the opportunity to view the Rhinoceros, the Elephant and the Lion where they belong, in the wild.”
It’s crucial that Rangers are not only validated on this important day but awareness also needs to be made of the fact that their needs must be met, financially, emotionally and physically, to ensure that they too are protected and able to maintain under extreme pressure and high risk conditions. It’s thanks to these brave, committed individuals and their support teams that wildlife in South Africa and across the globe at least has a fighting chance.