The 31st of July marks World Ranger Day, a time to celebrate the personal courage and, all too often, commemorate the sacrifice made by wildlife rangers in the line of fire. Their work is often dangerous and difficult, unappreciated, unrecognised and unknown – and that’s why we want to share these projects with you. Showcasing the work of wildlife rangers across Africa, the stories are a testament to the courage and determination of the true heroes of African conservation.
1. The Black Mambas
The Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit is the first majority female anti-poaching unit in South Africa. It was founded in 2013 by Transfrontier Africa NPC, to protect the Olifants West Region of Balule Nature Reserve. Within the first year of operation, the Black Mambas were invited to expand into other regions and now protect all boundaries of the 52,000 hectare Balule Nature Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park.
The Black Mambas are about much more than just anti-poaching. Whilst their main objective is the security of the reserve and the protection of the wildlife, they also strive to educate the communities living on the outskirts of Balule and the Greater Kruger Park. By educating the local people in wildlife protection and conservation management, the Mambas hope to to create a patriotic community with a pro-environmental ethos that will conserve the area for future generations to enjoy.
Learn more about their work and how you can support it here. And if you have a spare moment, take a peek at this short film by National Geographic, all about the work of the Mambas.
2. The Virunga Rangers
Virunga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and one of the last remaining habitat of the mighty mountain gorilla. In the last 30 years, Virunga’s mountain gorilla population has quadrupled, largely down to the magnificent work of The Virunga Foundation. Amongst other initiatives, the Foundation raised the salaries of the honest park rangers to unprecedented levels. A Virunga Ranger now earns $200 a month, eight times the average salary in the DRC, but as well they should – the rangers risk their lives on a daily basis to protect the endangered giants within the park, as well as the people living around the park boundary.
Learn more about their work and how you can support it here.
3. The Northern White Rhino Rangers
Nearly wiped out by poachers and a highly lucrative rhino horn trade on the black market, the Northern White Rhino is on the brink of extinction. Sudan, a rhino at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Central Kenya, is the last male Northern White Rhino in the world. He is guarded day and night by rangers, who risk their own lives as they try to keep him safe. Even though his horn has been removed to deter poachers (and stop if from being lost to illegal trade), his keepers in the Kenyan reserve fear for his safety.
So, on today of all days, take a moment to think about the incredible work of the rangers of Africa, and across the world, for behind each one is a story of bravery and determination, but also of sorrow and of loss.