Wildlife rangers put their lives on the lines with little support

July 29, 2016, 6 a.m.
A wildlife ranger looks out over the African landscape.
Photo: LMspencer/Shutterstock

Wildlife Rangers have a dangerous job. They are in the field protecting endangered species and habitats from armed and motivated poachers. Just how risky is their job? A study from World Wildlife Fund (WWF) details it.

The study, "Ranger Perceptions: Africa," found that 82 percent of the rangers surveyed across 12 African countries have faced a life-threatening situation on duty. Further, 59 percent of them feel they're under-equipped and 42 percent feel they need better training to do their jobs safely. WWF's surveys of rangers in Asia and Latin America show similar findings.

WWF points out that many rangers in Africa lack not only lack weapons and transportation, but also simple necessities like boots and clean water.

The problem is big and far-reaching. "India, Thailand, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have seen the sharpest increase in ranger deaths caused by poachers in recent years. Areas rich in elephants, rhinos, sandalwood, rosewood and other valuable resources are most affected. In DRC’s Virunga National Park alone, some 140 rangers have been killed in the last 15 years," reports the IUCN in a 2014 article.

The lives of people, wildlife, and habitat are all wrapped up in the ability to provide wildlife rangers with quality tools and training to perform their jobs. And when the rangers can do their job to protect endangered flora and fauna, the entire world benefits.

July 31 is World Ranger Day, a day to both celebrate rangers and the hard work they do. It is also a day to bring attention to the risks they face, and provide support.

If you're interested in helping out, check out WWF's Back A Ranger campaign and The Thin Green Line Foundation.