They operate in extreme environments, and in their efforts to protect natural heritage, face the risks associated with dangerous wild animals, community backlash, and the increasing threat of armed poachers.
The association’s chief executive. Andrew Campbell, said the day was a time to remember the rangers who sacrificed to ensure the biological and territorial integrity of protected areas across the globe, and had done so with little recognition. “We pay tribute to their dedication, commitment and courage. We will remember them,” said Campbell.
The GRAA said it aimed to provide rangers with the necessary protection to competently and confidently perform their field duties.
It has recently launched the “Safe Ranger” Project alongside Medwise Safety Services to train rangers with the necessary practical skills to perform first aid in remote areas.
SANParks regional spokesperson Merle Collins said that in South Africa, game rangers stand up to poachers almost daily as they battle to end the decimation of wildlife, ranging from the poaching of rhino and abalone to the illegal removal of plants such as cycads and proteas.
“The day is also an opportunity to pay tribute to rangers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. We salute their dedication in protecting and conserving wild flora and fauna. Most importantly we will be thanking the rangers for all the extraordinary work they do to ensure the integrity of our beautiful parks remains intact.”
A 2016 World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) study reported that in Africa, 40% of rangers surveyed were not covered by health insurance, 50% had no life insurance and 60% had no long-term disability insurance. Africa’s rangers were the worst off.