Ranger Heroes

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.”

ranger near poaching

Ranger at site of a rhino poaching incident in Kruger 01/15. Kate Brooks / Redux Pictures for Al Jazeera America

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.

Illustration by Sophia Maria

 

 

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Ranger Coulran

Name: Coulran

Age: 28 years old

Location: Mpumalanga, SA

I did my field rangers course at one of the best college in southern African, SOUTHERN AFRICAN WILDLIFE COLLEGE AND AFRICAN FIELD RANGERS TRAINING SERVICES,  I’m proud to have been a product of them thanks to the opportunity they offered me and other rangers, though it was not an easy road.

Coulran in bush

Coulran on duty

What has been your most rewarding and most difficult moment as a ranger?

The most rewarding moments as a anti poach ranger is when I spend more months without poaching within the reserve and believe me I wish I can spend my whole life without poaching activities. That motivates me as it shows that me and my colleagues we doing a marvelous job.

The difficult moments is when I wake up in the mornings and wear my uniforms with the thought that I may not make it back to the camp as I may occur a battle contact with poachers. When I don’t arrest poachers when they trespass our reserve as they are one step ahead of me and my unit members.

How much do you work, what is your schedule like?

The way I work can’t be really specified as it’s not a daily routine but what I can say is it all depends on my ops manager and what schedule he brings that day or night. I work 9 hour mornings or nights. It’s like 2 weeks on nights,  2 weeks on days and 2 weeks bush camp. In total I work 42 days and get 14 days off.

I do patrols and ambushes during work.

Where would you like to travel someday?

I would like to travel to Asia and Botswana. In Asia I would want to see where are they selling this rhinoceros horns,  and in Botswana to learn how they keep the low rate of illegal rhino poaching because they are doing a great job.

What’s your favorite meal?

My favorite meal has to be pap and bull brand beef as it keeps me strong during those hard and long hours during work in the bush; and I won’t forget my grannie’s cooking I adore everything she cooks.

What do your friends/family think of your profession?

Couran on dutyMy family, especially my granny couldn’t understand why I chose anti-poaching while I could’ve been a doctor or some good office work, as I did very well in my matric and my other dream was to be a charted accountant.  But I had a soft spot for this species.But they support me and always call me to check if I’m still okay. As for my friends; those who know me they do support and wish me the best of luck.

I strived so hard to be where I am as it was not an easy journey to be an anti-poaching ranger. I dedicate my life for the animals and I’m proud to be a ranger .LET THE ROAR OF THE AFRICAN LION BE HEARD!

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World Ranger Day – THANK YOU

world ranger day

The depth of our gratitude is endless, as these people put it all on the line, affording the rest of us more time to rack our brains to come up with a solution. We are indebted to them all for their perseverance and very existence, as without them we would never fully possess our sanity, let alone be able to sleep. To know they are there, on guard, watching, listening; it is a comfort like no other.

Thank you for your hearts, your strength. KNOW we stand beside you during the patrols, in the silence of the night, in the heat of the forest, during times of fear, fatigue, and despair. You are each an inspiration, a hero.

Thank you for everything you do. You are a blessing to the animals. May God keep you safe. -Gerri

Thank you to all the wonderful Rangers that perform such a dedicated job to help save the rhinos from poachers! -Jo Wiest

Thank you rangers! -Lisa Chien Hunkler

The entire Fabrily Team would like to extend our gratitude to the brave Rangers who risk their lives daily to protect our planet’s precious wildlife. Thanks to your efforts rhinos, elephants, lions and many more species are being saved from extinction. Please continue this important work and know that you’ve got our appreciation and support!  ~ Fabrily Team, UK

I visited South Africa in August 2014 and it changed me forever.  I was incredibly moved by the amazing creatures who live in the protected areas.  I became overwhelmed by the amount of nature we have lost on this planet.  And it saddened me greatly.  It still does. I don’t know how to thank you adequately for working to protect what’s left.  I know you put your lives on the line every day to protect animals from harm.  Please know that although I’ve never met you, I think of you all often, and I wish you well. I live in the state of Kentucky, in the USA.  From my small town I’m working to raise money for night vision equipment for rangers.  My group, the Try Anything Rhino Project, has already purchased one piece of equipment that has arrived in South Africa in the last week or two.  I’m now working to raise funds to buy more. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for what you do.  You are all heroes.  I appreciate you more than you’ll ever know!! -Marla Knight-Dutille

 Please give our heartfelt thanks to all he Ranger Heroes out there! Wildlife Guardians, protectors of our precious wildlife, the world is forever in your debt. You truly are Guardian Angels for Wildlife -Thank you so much from Rebecca Bush & Family, UK
rangers 1
Thank you from the depths of my heart. The Indian rhino tattoo on my ankle is a reminder of these magnificent creatures who deserve the right to be free from humans. -Arden Zalman
Where do we begin? Because of YOU these lives carry on… THANK YOU for your dedication!!!! -Carla Viljoen
Thank You Rangers for your dedication and love of Animals. -Norma Crichton
We will never meet or talk, but you are in my mind and heart.  You have my admiration, respect, and gratitude.
I do what I can in the ways that I can, but YOU are the everyday living presence that does the work that will save so much in our world.Thank you, thank you.  I send good thoughts for your safety, health, strength, and peace. Catherine;Santa Rosa, California, USA
A huge thank you for all that you do to protect the vulnerable and magnificent creatures that share this world with us. You are true heroes-Sara Wickenden
Thank you Rangers for your brave efforts to protect wildlife.-Jean du Ross
We need companionate like you to protect these beautiful creatures.  May God Bless and protect you and the animals you care for. Thank you for your dedication and service-Dan Seme
You are the true protectors of our future.you might not know this but your efforts and true love you have for our animals are what keeps the planet alive.thank you from the bottom of my heart.you are true heros -Brendon Hoy
ranger with gorilla
Hello all your wildlife rangers, we want to say a big “THANK YOU” to you all for helping animals! You all are our HEROES!!! –Susanna Sikorski and Jens Strohkirch from Germany

TO ALL OF YOU WHO DO THIS HARD WORK- THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!! I read about as much as I can about your efforts, which are saving so many animals lives—at the same time, you have to deal with criminals who don’t care about anything but greed—so I just say a huge THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR EFFORTS TO HELP KEEP ALLTHE MAGNIFICENT CREATURES ALIVE—I PERSONALLY AM EXTREMELY GRATEFUL FOR ALL YOUR EFFORTS—Louise Smith

Rangers, I have the privilege of witnessing daily on WildEarth’s wildsafarilive.com, the love and care guides & rangers have for your wildlife.  I am blessed that I am able to witness ellies, lions, leopards, etc. thanks to the hard work and dedication you all put into your daily lives.  If it wasn’t for you, WE would have nothing to see and admire.  🙂 Keep up  the great work so WE can continue to be in awe.  WE are rooting for you, and praying for your safety and success.  Words cannot express enough, but I can say THANK YOU!Blessings, Vicky Sanders, New Mexico USA

To all the Rangers in the World, You’re true guardians of the Earth and the vital eco-systems we need to desperately protect. I’m heart broken for the tragedy in your work but we must all fight for your triumphs. -Thank you, Paula

KWS rangers line up

 

It is not money, goodwill or millions of people who care so much about wildlife, that actually saves it. That all helps, tremendously; but it is the rangers who actually save our animals. I have never had so much respect for anyone. Thank you! -Jenna Grant

Thank you for all that you do to protect our most precious and endangered wildlife. Thank you for doing your best to keep them safe and sound. You are the extraordinary and elite. I wish you many blessings and thanks. -Love Always, Susan
Thank you so much for all your hard work and dedication to help saving these animals. We all owe you so much.  -Anita
My heart breaks so much each time I read a horrendous poaching story. But it heals each time I hear of the wonderful work you do. Humanity must respect all animals, who give so much to us. Respect their habitat, their spirit and their being. We are all in this together. Thank you a million times over! -Janis Byrne
Thanks for your effort, love and hearts in action towards Rhino protection. Hope for the best outcome in their and your lives in harmony and soon! Love to you all. Many thanks all the way from Argentina. 🙂 -Marita  ❤ 😉
I’d like to thank you for all that you do. You are in my heart, and I am certain in the hearts of every adult and child who has ever reflected on the importance of the preservation of the Earth that we all share and belong to. The feeling of struggle is progressively relieved with every animal that is protected. This helps us all, even economically. We love you! -Santos of California
Zambia female officer
You are protectors of those animals who need you. You are their voice. Without you, they would be gone. I can’t thank you enough for the service you do. Bless you. Please have hope and love in your hearts. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! -Kari Tucker
You’re great at what you’re doing! Keep doing it because we need these animals! They’re important to a lot of people and what you guys are doing is an amazing thing! -Hannah
To my heroes – Thank you for all that you do every day to stop poachers and care for the animals that survive this horrific crime.  What you do for these majestic animals is so amazing.  I can only hope to someday see these animals with my own eyes in their own habitat and it will be because of your efforts.  And if I don’t ever get to see them, knowing that they are still alive because of your efforts is all I really need.  Thank you for saving these beautiful animals. Best-Abbie

Thank you for all you do to protect these beautiful creatures. Full of admiration for your bravery and dedication x Best wishes-Amy G

Beyond thanking you, I am unsure what else to say. You are protecting the inalienable rights, life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, of the wildlife. They lack a voice our society to request the protections which we enjoy and take for granted. Please continue your fine work and let the rest of us know how to better assist you.
Thank you. Sincerely, Ken
ranger with rhino near hand
I want you to know that if I was able I would be there to help. You are an inspiration in this cruel world. What you are doing is truly remarkable and I hope that you continue to save and protect these magnificent creatures. We are losing our beautiful animals on this planet at such a rapid rate it is horrific. Unfortunately mankind carries on. Thank you for all that you do. Keep up the fight. Thank you. –Sandra Mason, Mono, Ontario

On World Ranger Day  my  message of thanks goes to all those men and women who are prepared to lay their lives for the protection of their country’s wildlife heritage. This is often done enduring hardships and difficult conditions , for disproportionately low salaries. Their dedication is often overshadowed by other figures (‘the experts’) who provide technical and scientific knowledge for Nature conservation. Governments , in any country, should make it a priority to provide better conditions for these men and women, the game rangers: not only for the purpose of incentivizing an increasingly important profession, but also to express a nation’s gratitude for their sacrifice. Rangers are aware of the high risks they face , especially where poaching is conducted with extreme determination and violence,  and their choice of enforcing the law makes their work even more commendable. Thank you, for you are today’s heroes for tomorrow’s enjoyment of Nature by our children! –Silvana Olivo, France

Thank you wonderful folks, I appreciate all that you are doing! Bless you, may your lord be with you always! Thank you again! –Carol D

Thank you for your courage and commitment to protect the most endangered animals on the planet. It takes a special kind of person to be a wildlife ranger! –Yasmine Saad

Thank you so much for all that you do to protect our wildlife. Our national and state parks, and the plants and animals within them, are a treasure that you work so hard to preserve and protect—that does not go unnoticed or unappreciated! Your service means the world :)-Sophia D

Thanks so much for all you do to protect our planet! This World Ranger Day, and every day, let us never forget those who have given their lives to protect our wildlife and environment from poachers, polluters, and others intent on causing harm. Your bravery and sacrifices will not be forgotten! –Jeremy Taylor, Ravena, NY USA

So many of you sent support and appreciation for our rangers. We will be sending these messages to our friends at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Black Mambas APU, Game Reserves United (GRU) & RPU Program in Indonesia.

To further support our efforts with them, please purchase our limited edition summer tee: FIGHT FOR THE RHINOS YOU LOVE tees

 

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The Ladies of the Black Mambas APU

Olifants National Park

Black Mambas are deployed in 5 areas throughout the 50,000 hectares of Olifants, which is part of the Greater Kruger National Park.

Fight for Rhinos and Helping Rhinos proudly support the Black Mambas anti-poaching unit; a primarily female APU established in 2013 to protect the Olifants West Game Reserve.

The objective of the Black Mambas is not only the protection of rhinos through boots on the ground but also through being a role model in their communities. These women work to the concept of the “Broken Window” philosophy and strive to make their area of influence the “most undesirable, most difficult and least profitable place to poach”.

Recently we asked two of the rangers, Shipwe and Collett, about their jobs…

Shipiwe

Shipwe

Collett

Collett

FFR: Why did you join the Black Mambas?

Collett: Seeing rhinos being killed each and everyday, it helped my heart to make a decision that enough is enough with the killing. I joined the Mambas to stop the killing.

Shipwe: I joined to help make a difference in saving and protecting our rhinos.

FFR: What is the toughest part of being a Black Mamba?

Collett: Seeing a dead rhino carcass in front of me makes my heart bleed and it disturbs me a lot.

Shipwe: Knowing that we are dealing with dangerous people. I mean poachers you don’t know where you’ll find them out there in the field, but we know how to handle it.

FFR: What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?

Collett: Doing road blocks, searching cars that are going out of the reserves for unpermitted things.

Shipwe: Sweeping

Black mambas marching

The Black Mambas main objective main objective is to search and destroy poacher’s camps, wire-snares and bush-meat kitchens every day.

FFR: Do you feel you’re treated differently than men in APUs?

Collett: No, they treat me as an APU, not as a man or a woman.

Shipwe:  No, I feel treated very well. It seems we are the first females to be in this field.

FFR: What have you learned since joining the Mambas that you didn’t know before?

Collett: How to do a bush walk.

Shipwe: I have learned how to interact with animals of all kinds because I work with them almost everyday.

FFR: What can your community do to best support you?

Collett: Stop coming from the reserve and poaching, because these people are coming from our communities.

Shipwe:  By organizing meetings so that I can go and teach them, young and old people, about saving our nature and reserves.

Stop killing rhinos black mambas

FFR: You are an inspiration to your community, as well as to girls who may not have thought of being in a APU before. What would you say to girls or women who are thinking of doing the same job?

Collett:  To do this job is not simple, so they need to be in love with animals and have a mind-set of wanting to protect our rhinos more than to think about money or other stuff.

Shipwe:  I can say to them they need to have a big heart to do it, because it requires all your energy, your ability to think and the courage to do it.

The Black Mambas have identified and destroyed over 12 poachers’ camps and 3 bush meat kitchens within the “buffer-zone” as well as reduced snaring and poisoning activities by 76% within their area of operation since their deployment in 2013.

To continue to support their endeavors, consider donating to Fight for Rhinos in the US, or Helping Rhinos in the UK.

 

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Thank a Ranger

July 31st is World Ranger Day, one of our favorite days, as we give respect and appreciation to all the men and women for protecting our wildlife.

These people ARE the frontline in the poaching war. Without them, rhinos, elephants, lions, gorillas, pangolins would surely have been wiped out by now.

We cannot emphasis enough the importance of wildlife rangers.

In honor of this day, we would like your help in showing gratitude. Please send us a note of thanks to share with them for all they do. We’ll be taking comments up until the 31st. fightforrhinos@gmail.com

We will share your messages on July 31st, World Ranger Day.

rangers behind

 

 

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The ever-evolving role of Wildlife Rangers

Game Ranger: Someone who is responsible for the management of a game reserve.  They work with ecologists, game reserve and wildlife managers; manage and monitor animal populations, maintain roads and fencing, and serve as field guides.

Rangers tracking wildlife for guests in Londolozi. photo: Eric Leininger

Rangers tracking wildlife for guests in Londolozi. photo: Eric Leininger

That in a nutshell was the job of a ranger. But today’s wildlife guides have had to evolve, not just gauge and monitor animals, but defend them with their lives.

Anti-poaching training and strategies have become the primary focus. Rangers evolved, were forced to become militarized.  Working 24/7 to secure poaching hot-spots, do regular patrols to find and remove snares, gather intelligence, and set up ambushes to catch would-be poachers; all the while, keenly aware their lives are under threat.

Rangers alert and on patrol in Virunga National Park, a park with a high incidence of gunfire and poaching activity. photo: Soldier Systems

Rangers alert and on patrol in Virunga National Park, arguably the most dangerous park due to poaching and interest in oil. photo: Soldier Systems

In 2013, Transfrontier Africa broke new ground by initiating the first all women anti-poaching teams. By engaging the community and employing local women to help protect Balule Nature Reserve, it helped empower the community and change the face of game rangers. Far from the traditional ranger, but thus far, the program has been highly successful in keeping down poaching.

black mambas training

Black Mambas in training exercises at Balule. photo: Protrack APU

Rangers are tough as nails and defend rhinos with their lives. So what wouldn’t they do to fight poaching?

In 2014, a former model and photographer took a unique approach to raising funds for rhino conservation. A dozen park rangers took things a step further and bared all in a naked calendar shoot. Innovative, slightly humorous, but courageous. And still quite serious. As said by one of the participants, Sibu Nziwe, “I have chosen to work for nature and give up the competition for jobs in the cities. I have sacrificed my social life with family and friends in the city for a greater cause.”

naked ranger 1

Rangers bared all in a 2015 calendar, raising awareness and funds toward their jobs and the crisis of poaching. photo: Josie Borain

What’s next? Whatever it may be, rest assured they will get it done. Dedicated, courageous, adapting-these men and women sacrifice themselves in ways most of us can’t imagine. There is nothing they can’t or won’t do. They are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and heroes. They are rangers.

 

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Ranger Heroes: Gideon

Rangers are on the front line every day protecting our wildlife. Dedication is an understatement, as they pour 100% of their time and effort into guarding rhinos, ensuring safety for tourists and helping to keep daily life at Ol Pejeta running smoothly.

Gideon OPC

Gideon at Ol Pejeta

 

Name: Gideon

Age: 26 years old

Location: Ol Pejeta Conservancy

What has been your most rewarding OR most difficult moment as a ranger?

It is a hard time when the moon is full.

How much do you work?

I work 84 hours a week. I have 6 days off a month.

Where would you like to travel someday?

Canada.

rangers at opc training 1

Rangers at OPC undergo regular training to keep them up to date on techniques of security and wildlife monitoring. Photo: OPC

What is your favorite meal?

Rice.

What do you wish you had to fight poachers?

More arms, good vehicles and to boost security.

What do your family/friends/significant other think of your profession? 

They appreciate what I do, but they worry too.

 

Gideon with gun

Gideon – always ready, always watching.

 

OPC rhino by safaribookings

OPC is integral to the survival of rhinos, they are the largest black rhino sanctuary in east Africa.

 

 

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The Man in the Arena

Here in the US as we honor the fallen soldiers who have put down their lives for our freedom, let us also remember the fallen rangers. These brave souls have paid the ultimate price for our world’s wildlife. It’s about more than “animals”, it’s about protecting our planet, preserving life. There are not enough words to express our respect and appreciation for you and your families.

Fight for Rhinos

‘It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.’

KWS training course

Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered at…

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Ranger Omaria

We can never begin to imagine what rangers go through or thank them enough for their tireless work for our wildlife on a daily basis. Bottom line-if there were no rangers, there would be no rhinos or elephants left. Here is yet another hero, dedicating himself to our wildlife…

 

Name: Omaria (Ken)ranger ken
Age: 36 years old
Location: Meru National Park, Kenya

What is the most difficult thing about your job as a ranger?

My most difficult moment was when I went through some disciplinary process famously known as ‘orderly room processing’ for a mistake made by my colleague and not me. Just because the lady ranger was in a relationship with an officer. I was therefore made sacrificial lamb.

Where would you like to visit someday?

 I would love to visit South Africa see how they protect their wildlife. And the USA to see generally how life is in the “first world”.

What is your favorite meal?

 Ugali (famous in East Africa) and some roast meat(Nyama Choma)

What would your ideal day be?

My ideal day would be when am home with my family,my wife and 3 boys and a daughter; normally 5 days after every three months, and 30 total working days annual leave, once every year.

What do you wish you had to fight poaching?

To fight poachers we need tents and night vision goggles (since rhino poachers have become nocturnal) We would also need water tanks at the Rhino bases.

What do your family and friends think of your job?

My family/friends see me as privileged to be here keeping wildlife. When I am home my sons John, Bill and Wycliffe and their grandparents ask me if the animals are safe when I’m away. Wycliffe my 4 year son calls himself Leopard/Chui in Swahili.

If you could do something else, would you?

If I was to do something else, I want to be a pilot. Flying aircrafts to provide security for wildlife, provide veterinary support  services for research and translocation purposes; animal game census and transport of rations (including ammunition) to rangers in anti poaching units. Or be a lecturer teaching Wildlife,environment and Tourism management. 

“Going to church does not make you any more of a christian than standing in a garage would make you a car. It is all about Faith. My love for our animals and now my decision to protect them goes beyond Faith and passion. God bless us the wildlife guardians and sworn warriors. Our wildlife our heritage.”

-Omaria

 

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Rhinos, Rangers and Respect

As you watch the Superbowl from your living rooms, our rangers are out in the bush, patrolling, vigilantly protecting our rhinos and elephants.

Rain, sun, under the veil of darkness- each snap of twig, each movement in the shadow; at any moment awaiting to hear the shot of a gun…or the feel of one.

“It’s a relentless onslaught,” says Johan Jooste, special projects commander with South African National Parks (SANParks). “This place gives new meaning to 24/7.”

Soldiers in the poaching war, always in danger, every hour they spend on guard is intense. Relying on one another to back them up, praying the others in their unit are just as committed and not on the payout from poaching syndicates.

One day uneventful, another loading a rhino carcass onto a truck. Many of these men and women, taking each death to heart, feeling guilt and defeat.

“Worldwide, about two rangers are killed every week,” says Sean Willmore, president of the  International Ranger Federation and founder of the Thin Green Line Foundation, “But that’s only partial data,” he adds. “It could be double that amount.”

Unappreciated, underpaid, inadequately armed, facing long tedious days only to go to bed and sleep with one eye open, and get up to do it all again. Please help us show appreciation and respect. It goes a LONG way!

Which ranger inspires you? Make a donation in his name and we’ll send them a note of thanks  in your words and let them know there is someone out there supporting their efforts and fighting on THEIR team!

Click on each ranger’s name to re-read their stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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