Game rangers honoured

2013-07-25 12:01
(Picture: Green Renaissance)

(Picture: Green Renaissance)

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Cape Town - Internet users have expressed their support for rangers who patrol reserves in order to protect endangered species like rhino.

World Ranger day is celebrated on 31 July and a post on the Africa: Live Facebook page attracted hundreds of likes and shares within a day of being posted.

According to the International Ranger Foundation (IRF), the first Ranger Day was celebrated in 2007, the 15th anniversary of the founding of the organisation.

Users on the Africa: Live Facebook page expressed warm support for the work that rangers do.

"Your commitment and dedication is invaluable - thank you!" wrote Jenny Williamson.

Corruption

"To the dedicated protectors of wildlife, a big thank you. It is good work, but dangerous so I pray that you stay safe," wrote Lorna Grant, alluding to the threat of poachers who are often armed with high calibre weapons.

According to the IRF, scores of rangers are killed annually in the fight against poachers.

The organisation has an "honour roll" for the rangers who died in the execution of their duties on its website that indicates that some were also killed by the animals that they are sworn to protect.

The threat posed by poachers is intended to intimidate game rangers, said the head of the environmental crime investigation unit at the Kruger National Park.

"They would leave signs in the sand near the border telling a specific ranger, 'We're coming for you'. We have to adhere to the rule of the land. They don't," said Kenn Maggs in 2012.

However, the reality of corruption was illustrated in Mozambique with allegations that rangers turned on the rhino they were meant to protect.

Betrayal

"It is tragic beyond tears that we learn game rangers have now become the enemy in the fight to protect rhino from being poached for their horns," said Kelvin Alie, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare's Wildlife Crime and Consumer Awareness programme.

The organisation said that 30 rangers were to appear in court for the killing of the last 15 rhino in the country.

Around 515 rhino have been killed in SA in 2013, and the country is set to lose close to 1 000 at this rate. Corruption in SA is been named as one of the contribution factors to the escalation of rhino poaching.

The African and Asian Rhinoceroses - Status, Conservation and Trade publication compiled by Tom Milliken, Richard H Emslie and Bibhab Talukdar, says, in part, that investigations revealed "the repeated involvement of Vietnam Embassy personnel or vehicles in the illegal procurement and movement of rhino horns within and out of South Africa, one of whom invoked 'diplomatic immunity' to avoid arrest".


- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    animals  |  rhino poaching

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