Watch this short Discovery clip of black rhinos at night. It’s amazing the things nature has to teach us, and all we still don’t know about our ancient pachyderms.
On average 2 rhinos and 96 elephants are slaughtered each day.
In the last ten years over 1,000 rangers have been killed.
Should there be a shoot-to-kill policy? Would it help? The controversy is widely debated.
But what do the rangers think?
I spoke to several rangers to get their thoughts.
One ranger said,
“Most of the poachers are poor locals surrounding the wildlife reserves and they see the reserves as their source of income. What is needed is to empower people near the reserves economically, pass on scheme of goats, dairy cows, sending poor children to school… they will become role models to the community and people will begin to appreciates the importance of conserving animals.
We can shoot ten poachers a day, suppose they are all men- surely their families will suffer and later become poachers as means of survival. We shoot at poachers when our lives and that of our friends are in danger but shooting down any poacher it’s not solution.”
Another who works in a large reserve said,
“I don’t think it will help because we normally look for deep information & investigations on a suspect caught that may lead to their middlemen, bosses etc.”
But overall most of them were in favor of the policy.
“Keeping them alive sometimes does not help because the source of poaching is dealing with big people, often from government offices. So it’s a bit risky for the rangers who arrest them.”
“This thing of arrest, it throws us backwards to winning this war of poaching. The more that are arrested, the more they are replaced by new poachers.”
“In courts things turn ugly for most of our rangers who killed poachers due to poachers kingpins paying prosecutors money to let their associates off the hook. (If it were a policy, the government would support rangers without the extensive interrogation)
“Yes, yes, yes! They should be shot. Because the rhinos are killed, but also the rangers. I think it is the only way to win this war.”
This must be one of the most brutal fortnights yet in the history of the rhino poaching war, in our province. At least 14 deaths were discovered in various protected areas in as many days. (I can’t go into detail at this time but it’s getting even more savage, as if that’s possible.)
Yesterday honestly rates as one of the lowest points in my life as a wildlife vet, pretty much an emotional breaking point – but it’s not the first time; it’s something that is happening far too often. I don’t think it is possible to explain to somebody who hasn’t experienced this nightmare, what even one death scene does to you. It’s traumatic and haunting, and cannot ever be erased from your mind. I’ve attended over 400!!
-From wildlife vet Dave Cooper
The slaughter is real, the poachers are relentless. In this incident, Dr. Cooper attended a death scene of not just one more rhino, but four!
We need to be just as relentless in our efforts to curb the poaching and protect our rhinos. If you’ve ever thought about helping, there is no better time than now. Please DONATE to support APUs in Kenya and South Africa.
Thin soled boots
Uniforms worn as second skin.
Rifle at ready
Watching, waiting, listening
As silence invites to be broken.
Night’s campfires can’t warm,
Day’s heat smothers like a thick blanket
Minds wander, sleep beckons
Yesterday a success
for death found neither
ranger nor rhino and
Will tomorrow bring the same?
The hours will tell
as shift draws toward a close.
Back home families wait
By Tisha Wardlow
Age: 24 years old
Location: Tanzania Mwanza region
I choose to be a ranger because when I was young I got interested in wild and domestic animals. The issue of conservation is in my blood and was also my dreams, because my father also is a veterinary.
When the time goes and the population of human beings increase, so does the issue of poaching of animals such as elephants and rhinos and antelopes. That activity make me unhappy so I told my father that I want to study in a College of Wildlife Management; when I was studying my ambition was to be working in a National Park or Game reserve.
What has been your most rewarding and most difficult moment as a ranger?
As a ranger my most rewarding time is during Summer season because of the infrastructure of road is good when moving from one place or one point to another point. The most difficult time as a ranger is during the Winter or rain season because of the infrastructure is not suitable.
How much do you work, what is your schedule like?
I work day and night, summer and winter, all seasons of the year to ensure that our wild animals who are mostly sought after by poachers are surviving and are not killed.
What’s your favorite meal?
Ma favourite meal is Ugali,Rice and meat or fish
Where would you like to travel someday?
Looking for a job where you’re unappreciated? Employee must:
- work for minimal wages
- work long hours, spending weeks away from family
- sleep in the bush in rain, sun, cold and heat
- be constantly alert for wildlife hazards (i.e snakes, cape buffalo, lions, etc)
- may be injured or killed at any given moment
Sound extreme? That’s the life of a wildlife ranger. They do get appreciation from conservationists, at least in words. At “Fight for Rhinos”, we see plenty of “Thank You’s” in gratitude of their undaunting work. Unfortunately words are not enough. They need and deserve so much more.
In our current campaign “Training Rangers to Protect Rhinos”, we are raising funds to send an anti-poaching unit to human tracker training. This group has basic training, but is inexperienced with HUMAN tracking. In order to prevent more loss of rhino, and for the safety of the rangers, we are seeking funds to send them to an Anti-Poaching Tracking Course .
A combined effort of “Go Fund Me” along with PayPal donations on our site have brought us to $600. We only need $400 more.
If all of our followers shared this story and turned their “thank you” into even $5, we would not only surpass our goal, but be able to send 13 more APUs to training!
Please help. Your little bit goes a LONG way.
Rangers are taught “basic training” in a short 6-8 week period of time. During this general training they learn
- animal identification and behavior
- bird identification
- plant and grass identification
- how to recognize and manage soil erosion
- general patrol techniques
- bush craft
- bush survival
- first aid
This is a lot to take in during a short amount of time. Once employed, they study and learn on-the-job with senior rangers. During their time with a reserve, there is constant in-house training to enhance or maintain their skills. Additional outside training is welcomed, but can be more costly.
Rangers have some familiarity in animal tracking, but humans are another kind of animal. Poachers are an ever-present danger. Due to the increase and intensity of poaching, it is absolutely essential for rangers to learn how to track them within their area.
Human (or poacher) tracking teaches them
Early detection of the presence of suspicious activities / presence of suspects.
The systematic following of a suspects trail that can lead to the:
Location of traps, snares, camps, entry and exit point, and poaching hot spots.
Apprehension of the suspects whether it be trespassers or poachers
Gathering of invaluable intelligence on movement and operation patterns, level of skill, modus operandi, and current weaknesses within the implemented operational plan, which will feed into the counter poaching model,
Gathering of evidence linking suspects to scenes of crime.
With poachers having the advantage of the element of surprise, working in groups, and often better armed, learning how to detect them is crucial both to the safety of the rangers and wildlife.
FightforRhinos received a plea from a ranger in a smaller APU in southern Kruger to help them learn human tracking. We have found an outside, reputable training program to send them to. But we can’t do it without your help. To support our efforts, please go to Go-Fund-Me or make a donation through Paypal on the Donate button at fightforrhinos.com
We’re starting out the new year with a Go-Fund-Me campaign to protect our rhinos and the courageous rangers who stand between them and the poachers.
We received a plea from a ranger belonging to a smaller anti-poaching unit in southern Kruger National Park. The loss of rhino in their area has left them feeling frustrated and helpless. Aside from their basic training, they are in urgent need of a tracking course to enable them to better track poachers when they are in the area.
In this ranger’s words “It is important to go to such training as in most training centers or colleges they do teach us tracking but in a short period, and in those weeks there’s lot of things we’ve been taught (i.e animal identification, tree species, grass,soil erosion, patrol techniques, etc) so doing this specified human tracking will enable us to see clearly where and how the poachers came and to follow them if they’re inside the park.”
Please support and share this crucial campaign. ANY and every amount is hugely appreciated.
For more see: Rangers can’t do it alone, they need your help!
“Truly speaking, I didn’t believe it until the third day after. I asked myself why did this happen in OUR section? I didn’t know what to do, but deep down in my heart I was hurting seeing that rhinos lying helpless, (killed) for its horn.
One thing that kept coming in my mind was How did these people manage to get to this place without anyone seeing them? Many questions kept coming but with no answers. As for my heart it was painful, as it is now answering these questions. I’m hurt; and your must remember if a rhino is poached under your supervision there’s a lot of suspense; and as a young field ranger like me, it can make or break your career.
All you have to do is to be mentally fit and tells yourself that tomorrow I’ll do better to save this species.”
This ranger, as with many on the battlefields of the poaching war in Africa, is frustrated, and in need of help; help to fight against the scourge of poaching that threatens not only an entire species, but his career and family.
Rangers are trained in areas of wildlife; tracking animals, wildlife identification, patrol tactics and techniques…but with limited funding and time, they are not all skilled at “human” tracking. This is vital to stay a step ahead of poachers.
At Fight for Rhinos, we are looking to provide this essential training to their anti-poaching unit. This APU is located in southern Kruger, a hotspot for rhino poaching. Having lost rhino already, this makes them a target. Once poachers achieve success, they will come back, looking to repeat their success.
Your donations will directly impact this area; keeping not only the rhinos safer, but the rangers as well. Please help and give what you can. Your donations and purchases are urgently needed.
Our goal is to provide the training by February.