Ranger Heroes

World Ranger Day 2017

Today is an opportunity to give rangers the appreciation and respect they deserve. When laws are weak, technology is expensive, and the price on an animal’s head is high, the only thing literally standing between a poacher and rhino, is the ranger.

We salute you all! Thank you for your dedication, bravery and efforts. You truly are our heroes.

Photo: Bruce Adams

 

 

 

 

 

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Secrets of the Black Rhino

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.

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Ranger James: caretaker of the last male Northern White Rhino

Name: James
Age: 29
Location: Ol Pejeta in Kenya
I have been a ranger for the last 5 years now,3 years as a rhino patrol man and 2 years now as the last three northern white rhinos caretaker.
I grew with a passion for the conservation of nature,I realised there was need to have a right-minded people who would speak out for poaching stricken elephants and rhinos, as well other living things. After my high school and I was unable to fund further education, I decided to get a job that would allow me to be close to these animals and serve to protect them.

Northern Whites by Tony Karumba

 
What has been your most rewarding and most difficult moment as a ranger?
 The most rewarding thing (as a ranger) is to see the rhino populations rise steadily,more so the role they play in the ecosystem  and the tourism sector as well.
The most difficult and worse of it as a ranger is the site of a poached rhino. You take care of a rhino for years and then in one night or day a poacher kills it and hacks off its horn and make millions, its horrible!! Leaving the whole carcass and blood spilt everywhere..too sad.
What do you do in your off days?
In my off days I like to do a lot, from nature walks, birding, playing guitar, reading and hiking too.
Where would you like to travel someday?
I would ike to travel a lot; from America and other parts of Africa and meet different people and diverse culture, beliefs and practices, as well as other adorable living things.
What is your favorite animal?
Rhino of course.
What’s one thing you wish you had to make your job easier?
I need learning. I know and understand that it is an essential tool that can curb poaching at a very great extent, its one tool I yearn for everyday.

Sudan, photo: James Mwenda

You work with Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino. You see a lot of tourists come and go. Do you think they truly understand the gravity of the situation with him and the other two?
When we are addressing the plight of rhinos, the awareness point of it is very crucial. In my personal tours with visitors to Sudan, I can truly see them understand the gravity of the whole crisis facing the N.whites. I have seen from emotional transitions to assertions that we all must do something to save and avoid the black and white rhinos from facing the same threat as the N.whites; to a positive and conservation oriented people.
The story of the northern whites is a mind changing and transforming one. Sudan alone is a voice himself to the human race,who have reduced all his relatives,brothers and sisters. He is also appealing to political leaders who have facilitated political instability and thus their massacre; at a greater extent they are playing a major role in ambassadoring for other species too.
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Rangers thoughts on ‘shoot-to-kill’

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?

apu

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.”

poacher-caught-in-garamba

Apprehended poacher in Garamba.

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.”

poacher-caught-in-2014-acquiited-caught-again-2017

These Limpopo poachers were acquitted of rhino poaching in 2014, and just caught for rhino poaching again this month, in January.

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.”

cameroon-ranger-shot-dead-by-poachers

Cameroon park ranger Bruce Danny Ngongo was shot dead in a poacher confrontation this past December. photo: Cameroon Wildlife Service

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Relentless

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

planting-crosses-for-fallen-rhinos-in-sa

Planting crosses for fallen rhinos in South Africa. So far, there are an estimated 731 of them this year.

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.

black-and-white-mom-and-babe-by-max-waugh

photo: Max Waugh

 

 

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Waiting Game

ranger in tall grass

photo: unknown

Broken laces,

Thin soled boots

Uniforms worn as second skin.

Rifle at ready

Watching, waiting, listening

Time ticks

As silence invites to be broken.

Night’s campfires can’t warm,

Day’s heat smothers like a thick blanket

Minds wander, sleep beckons

Time ticks

Yesterday a success

for death found neither

ranger nor rhino and

life resumes.

Will tomorrow bring the same?

The hours will tell

Time ticks

as shift draws toward a close.

Back home families wait

and wonder.

 

By Tisha Wardlow

 

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Ranger Emmah

Name: Emmanuel

Age: 24 years old

Location: Tanzania Mwanza region

Emmah ranger

Ranger Emmah

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.

ugali-nyama

Ugali is a dish of flour cooked with water to a porridge- or dough-like consistency.

What’s your favorite meal?

Ma favourite meal is Ugali,Rice and meat or fish

Where would you like to travel someday?

 Here in Africa I would like to travel to South Africa and see how rhino are protected and conserved there. But the other place which I would like to travel is Europe, in a country such as the UK or France.
 
What do you think we can do to make a difference and ensure a future for rhinos?
 
 To ensure a future for our Rhino we need  to make sure that we have enough tools and equipment such as guns, cars, shoes, combat essentials, and communication equipment such as satellite phones or radios; and enough funds for the ranger for training and  good knowledge and experience in conservation issues.
 We also need to make sure that villagers and local people are well-informed about the importance of wild animals; and to destroy the market for rhinos in Asian countries.
All in all we must tell the world that only Rhino wear horns.
Emmah ranger 3

   Emmah

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How much is a ‘Thank You’ worth?

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

southern africa wildlife college

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.

Donate at Go Fund Me or Paypal on the left corner of our page.

DSCF9149

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How to Track a Poacher 101

southern africa wildlife college

photo: Southern Africa Wildlife College

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 survivalTracker training 4
  • 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.

Tracker training 2

Tracker training by Colin Patrick Training.

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.

Ranger holding baby rhino foot

photo: unknown

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
3 white rhinos by penny wilson

In order to keep them safe, we must support THEIR protectors, the rangers. photo: Penny Wilson

 

 

 

 

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Training Rangers to Protect Rhinos

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.

rhino ranger

photo: Chris Galliers

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!

Go-Fund-Me: Training Rangers to Protect Rhinos

help rangers illustration by sophia

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