It is all in our hands, isn’t it?
Later this week, the world celebrates World Ranger Day, and by now, you know how we support rangers as an emergency effort to keep them in the field in jobs, with their families fed in particular, while tourism has a stop-start reboot and travel resumes. We celebrate them too. Project Ranger is the way we find to do that best.
While I was writing this and considering these ‘heroes’, my phone buzzed. I had to read about a Zimbabwe National Parks ranger based in our Sapi Private Reserve, who, whilst out on patrol, walked into some buffalo who attacked and impaled him on his right side. It evoked memories of our buffalo attack that both Beverly and I survived. She was much closer to not making it than I was. But Shepard Ngoromani sadly did not. He was out doing his duty, for the wildlife, for the planet, for us.
Suppose we accept that the planet is fragile. Every day! All one has to do is watch an hour of daily news to see over 89 wildfires in the western USA. There are increased methane emissions in the Arctic, floods in China and Germany. The hottest temperatures ever recorded are now in Germany, France and the UK. In that case, it is understandable that we all exist with a type of post-traumatic environmental stress.
And our front-line conservationists are still out there daily.
There are things we can do.
In addition to reducing our emissions, using less plastic and wasting less, we need to protect the planet’s biodiversity at all costs. It is the animals that moderate and regenerates our planet. They are the engines of our systems, and protecting them is much more critical than most people recognise.
So my first wish is for us to protect biodiversity. To clearly achieve that, we cannot be trading in dead animals. To this degree, and since we started Project Ranger, 48 rangers and wildlife crime investigators have been killed that we are aware of. Some even explicitly targeted in cases. If humans were to trade in ivory and rhino horn, lion bones or pangolin scales legally, we would make the work of rangers so much more challenging. They would almost have their hands tied, trying to figure out what would be wildlife crime versus permit fraud, for example.
The straightforward rule that “No Trade” provides is that it saves ranger’s lives. That rule would further stimulate travel back to these pristine places, and we can start seeing our communities thrive and conservation strengthen.
Most of all, we need to honour and protect Shepard and his family in Zimbabwe, where a few hundred dollars goes a long way. Project Ranger’s funds are designated to keeping rangers in the field, but we also want to recognise those who fall in the field on active duty.
So Project Ranger will contribute to a fund for Shepard’s family and counselling for his co-workers because it is not all about protecting wildlife; it is also about looking after the men and women in the field. We are inviting anyone to join us.
We asked our head monitor, Poster, at Rhinos Without Borders, to comment a little on his job, and I will leave it to him to speak, but the passion and dedication are quite evident.
Without rangers, we have no wildlife. Without wildlife, no tourism. Without tourism, no revenue to communities. Without that… no future.
This Friday, a new 24-hour virtual festival celebrating rangers on #WorldRangerDay launches. These rangers, who are on the frontlines of protecting our global biodiversity, are some of the most passionate and dedicated wildlife crime experts on our planet, deserve more recognition. Beverly and I will be joining the discussions on Saturday, July 31st, at 5pm South African Standard Time. Feel free to find to more and join us by registering here.
Many thanks, usare shamwari yedu (Goodbye our friend)