On World Ranger Day, we invite you to join us in honoring and supporting the individuals around the world who play an essential role in safeguarding our planet’s natural resources. Their skills are indispensable in combating poaching, illegal fishing, and other threats that jeopardize wildlife and exacerbate climate change. Additionally, WildAid has always maintained that rangers are, in many ways, the diplomats of the wildlife world. They serve as vital links to tourists and communities who live alongside animals, protecting them as much as the animals, and ensuring that national parks remain safe and protected havens for all.
Here are just some of the ways we work with rangers to defend wild spaces across the globe. Our work would not be possible without them.
On a community level, we celebrate the rangers and wildlife liaison officers who play a key role in reducing human-wildlife conflict and promoting human-wildlife coexistence, protecting not just the animals, but also the people who live alongside them. They include Asha Mnkeni, Tanzania’s first female ranger; Yamat, Neria, and Stefano, who all work as community wildlife officers in Tanzania; and Andrea Minkwe in Gabon.
Unfortunately, rangers and officers who risk their lives for conservation often have little status or profile within their countries—both in Africa and abroad. This is due in part to the corruption that serves as a major enabler of wildlife trafficking, and the fact that the public is largely unaware of the extent of the poaching crisis. By spotlighting the incredible stories of these individuals through our Unsung Heroes campaign, we help give them much needed recognition and visibility.
We also work with government officials across Africa to give rangers—and the land they defend—additional protections.
On July 6, 2023, WildAid joined other international environmental protection organizations to donate funds and field patrol materials to aid rangers in protecting ancient tea trees in Lincang City.
The ancient tea tree community in Lincang grows in mountains at an altitude of 2,000-3,000 meters. It is the highest elevation and densest group of ancient tea trees currently known to be growing on Earth. The community’s 80,000+ ancient tea trees are hundreds, or even thousands, of years old, and the 821 species of plants, and 194 species of terrestrial vertebrates and microorganisms form a healthy ecosystem with rich biodiversity. This ecosystem is not only home to rare wildlife, but also provides local communities with cleaner air and water.
As the price of Pu’er tea has continued to rise in recent years, wild ancient tea products have increased in demand and the destruction of ancient tea resources is becoming more and more serious. The role of the rangers who manage and protect these ancient tea tree resources, especially in Lincang City, is critically important. Let’s hear it for these conservation heroes!
Each year, hundreds of female sea turtles leave the safety of the sea to lay thousands of eggs along Ecuador’s coast. Unfortunately, these nesting sites face threats from predators and human hunting, decreasing endangered sea turtles’ chances of survival. To make matters more challenging, sea turtle hatchlings have an estimated 1% survival rate in the wild.
To help give these important marine animals all the help they can get, park rangers along Ecuador’s coast facilitate various sea turtle conservation projects including marking and protecting nests from predators, releasing more than 100,000 sea turtle hatchlings into the sea each year, and educating the local community about the importance of sea turtles.
We’re proud to partner with Ecuador’s rangers to ensure they have the resources and training needed not only to keep sea turtle populations safe, but also to defend marine protected areas from illegal fishers and other threats.
The incredible rangers in Cuba’s Ciénaga de Zapata National Park are tasked with protecting what are considered the most diverse and biologically rich ecosystems in the Caribbean. Relatively free from the impacts of tourism, pollution, and coastal development, the reefs in this area have fared better than in neighboring countries, where coral cover has seen significant declines.
In 2020, Cuba’s government invited WildAid Marine to help improve marine protected area (MPA) enforcement at the Ciénaga de Zapata National Park. Part of our Marine Protection System Plan included provision of critical surveillance and safety equipment for rangers and led to an increased number of patrols and exploration missions, an increase in detections of fishery violations, and improved marine protection for coasts and wildlife.
We commend these rangers for their commitment to conserving the island’s marine resources for the benefit of Cuban people.
Part of the Galapagos National Park, the Galapagos Marine Reserve was created in 1998 to stop all commercial fishing and only allow small-scale fishing within dedicated zones. WildAid began working with the Ecuadorian government and the Park in 2002 to better enforce the laws of the Reserve and to deter illegal fishing within its borders.
Last year, we were thrilled to support the delivery of the Metal Shark Inceptor 38’, the fastest and most technologically advanced patrol vessel in the park’s history. The boat was named ‘Makaira’, after the blue marlin, and chosen by park rangers because of the boat’s speed.
The Makaira is three times faster than a typical fishing boat and enables rangers to quickly intercept illegal fishers, who damage delicate marine ecosystems, and identify hot spots of illegal activities. This is a win-win for the rangers to improve enforcement of the Reserve with a faster response, and better protect the iconic wildlife that live and migrate in these waters.
Thanks to the dedication of these rangers, the Galapagos Marine Reserve boasts the densest shark population in the world and sea cucumber and spiny lobster populations, previously decimated by illegal fishers, have begun to rebound.
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WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect wildlife from illegal trade and other imminent threats. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $308 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too.
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