Today we are showing our support for the essential yet often underappreciated work of Rangers across the world. This day is marked by the International Rangers Ferderation to commemorate rangers killed or injured in the line of duty protecting the planet’s natural treasures and cultural assets. Rangers act as the first line of defence in protecing these sources of biodiversity and heritage from destruction and degradation on the ground where it matters most and many pay the ultimate price with their lives. Without these guardians of the natural world we’d lose our eyes and ears to what is happening within wild areas day to day. It would also mean giving up the fight against poachers and bad actors who would otherwise destroy these precious reserves.
Rangers are dedicated persons of diverse gender, race and cultures, who play a critical role in conservation; they are responsible for safeguarding nature, and cultural and historical heritage, and protecting the rights and well-being of present and future generations. There is no one universal title or job description – we are Rangers, Conservation Officers, Game Wardens, and more.
Please also read: Get to know more about Rangers and join the discussion
Dangerous and difficult work
In the 11-month period since World Ranger day 2020, 120 rangers have lost their lives in the line of duty, the number one cause due to homicide which accounts for 44% of deaths. This year has been particularly bad due to the pandemic which tragically took a further 500 Rangers lives. On top of this, 1 in 4 Rangers lost their jobs due to the virus. Unfortunately, the conditions they work under can often be more difficult than one might expect. A 2019 Front Line Report found that over 50% of Rangers don’t have access to clean drinking water and medical treatment when and where required and are often underfunded and understaffed. Alarmingly, despite the obvious hazards and shortcomings mentioned, a large majority lack insurance in case of injury or death.
“Rangers are planetary health workers, striving to conserve and protect the world’s resources, habitats, wildlife and communities; surely basic necessities and fundamental day-to-day requirements expected in any other profession are the least they deserve,”
Greater support for Ranger Safety and Well-being
Due to this reality, the International Ranger Federation has set this years theme as, ‘Safety and Well-being’. They are calling upon governments around the world and other conservation employers to review working conditions, provide adequate funding, and pass relevant policy interventions to improve Ranger safety and welfare. To help show your support for these key workers and spread this message they have put together a toolkit here with further information, banners and messaging to promote on social media. Re:wild have also put together a short five part video series together detailing the roles of a Ranger and what they deal with which is fascinating.
Towards gender equality
This year the IRF are also going a step further. Researcher for the International Ranger Federation and the Universal Ranger Support Alliance, Dr Joni Seager, has opened critical new perspectives analysis of the challenges and opportunities for bringing gender equality into ranger workforces. Scientific evidence confirms that bringing gender balance into the ranger workforce is beneficial to conservation, sustainability, and wildlife management. In general, bringing a diversity of views and skills improves all fields of work. Women and men have diverse knowledge and priorities when it comes to conservation. Therefore, balancing the ranger workforce will help realise larger conservation goals.