Mark it on your calendar. July 31, 2018 is World Ranger Day. This is a day that commemorates rangers killed or injured in the line of duty. It is also a significant day which celebrates crucial work rangers do to protect our natural heritage and cultural treasures.
Park rangers around the world are always in the frontline to protect our natural heritage. They do this despite dangers they face. Therefore, World Ranger Day provides a chance to support their critical work ranging from environmental campaigning and protection to education.
It is estimated that there are more than 100,000 parks, reserves and protected areas around the world. First held in 2007, World Ranger Day is organized by the International Ranger Federation (IRF).
When you see a gorilla in the Virunga massif, an elephant in a Kenyan national park, or a tiger in the forests of India, you have a ranger to thank. They live-and they also sometimes die-to protect nature. That’s their calling.
According to the Thin Green Line Foundation, 1,000 rangers were killed in the line of duty in the last 10 years. That is about two rangers a week, each week for the past decade. Governments often lack enough resources to adequately train and equip rangers. These men and women earn very little and some even go for several months without receiving their hard-earned salaries. They will even go for months without seeing their families.
According to an article appearing in the National Geographic, the director of Virunga National Park Emmanuel DE Merode during an interview was reported as saying that in recent years the militia have been supplementing income by attacking vehicles that go through the park. He added that there have been a big number of civilian casualties because of the attacks.
“When people go through the park, it’s the park’s responsibility to make sure the people are safe, so that’s added to the responsibilities of Virunga’s rangers. They have to protect them, and that’s been incredibly difficult but also very successful,” he said, confirming that In 2015 there were a large number of attacks that resulted in 124 killings, serious injuries, or abductions of civilians. By 2016 that had diminished to 79, and in 2017 that was reduced to 24.
Merode said there’s been very significant investment to increase the number of rangers in the Virunga National Park, but even more importantly to give them high-level training to be able to do that work. The number of rangers, he said, has increased from 230 in 2011 to 731 today.
“Also what’s quite telling is that the average age of rangers has decreased from 49 to 29. That’s because we recruit them younger,” he added.
Virunga Community Programs believe that for rangers to successfully do their work, they must first be better equipped and well trained. They require support beyond backpacks and boots. They must be supported and respected by all, including their governments, and national anti-poaching laws must be enforced.
We would also like thank all support from different organizations to recognize the efforts used by ranger in protecting our environment and natural heritage. We hope the lives of rangers are going to be better as we all understand the hard work they do every day. We wish all of you a good World Ranger Day