Respect our game rangers, 'ordinary men and women' making a huge difference
As World Ranger Day is commemorated on Wednesday, spare a thought for those who continue to work under treacherous conditions to conserve our wildlife, the Game Rangers’ Association of Africa (GRAA) urges.
"Rangers continue to keep wildlife and wild places safe despite tremendous odds. Often working unsupported under treacherous conditions they face perils in the form of dangerous working environments, extreme weather, disease, animal attacks and armed gunmen," said Andrew Campbell, chief executive of GRAA.
He said records showed that in the last decade, at least 1,000 rangers had died in the line of duty.
"Over the last year, 149 rangers across the globe have been killed, with at least 54 of these rangers being from Africa. Many ranger deaths go unreported, so the actual figure is thought to be two to three times higher.
"On World Ranger Day, July 31, we acknowledge the contribution of these courageous men and women to conservation. We will continue their work that benefits the wildlife and people of Africa," Campbell said.
He said rangers were "ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things in amazing places for a noble cause".
"They are often the sole breadwinners within large families. When rangers are killed in the line of duty, they leave behind family members who struggle not only emotionally but also economically. We owe it to them to ensure their families are looked after,” said Campbell.
He said the association, the oldest and largest ranger association in Africa, had initiated the Ranger Protect project - alongside SATIB Insurance Brokers - to assist rangers and their families.
"This offering provides death, disability and medical evacuation cover to rangers for as little as $30 per year.
“Recently one of our members had the misfortune of being gored by a black rhino whilst undertaking a rhino protection patrol. Thankfully, due to Ranger Protect, he was airlifted to a major medical centre where medical teams could stabilise his condition and ensure his recovery,” Campbell said.