Honoring the Men and Women Who are at the Frontlines of Conservation
By Emma Stokes
On World Ranger Day, we laud the men and women who risk their lives to protect wildlife and wild places around the world.
Park rangers, also known as ecoguards in some parts of the world such as Central Africa, are often the sole representatives of the law when civil strife breaks out in remote, wild areas throughout the world. The men and women on the frontlines of conservation know the land and the people and serve as the eyes and ears for all who are invested in the protection of species threatened by poaching today.
As they patrol an area on foot – sometimes for days or weeks – ecoguards look for signs of poachers including hunting camps, gun cartridges and wildlife carcasses. They also deduce how recently a poaching incident may have occurred—a crucial step for catching up with offenders and making arrests. Their work is not only important in helping catch poachers but also in maintaining a strong presence in important wildlife areas – thus acting as a strong deterrent to would-be offenders.
Since WCS (the Wildlife Conservation Society, where I work as a conservation scientist), and the Republic of Congo signed a public-private partnership agreement on the management of Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park last year, the number of ecoguards in the park has increased fivefold: we now have close to 80 rangers here.
Being an ecoguard at Nouabalé-Ndoki is dangerous work, but it is regarded as a critical job. The park is one of the most important remaining strongholds for gorillas and forest elephants in Central Africa and it’s one of the region’s most intact —> Read More