The 31st of July is World Ranger Day! It is a day especially set aside to give time to honoring the work that these dedicated men and women carry out at the frontline of conservation. We should in fact be recognizing and supporting these heroes on a daily basis but the 31st of July is perhaps more important for remembering those that have lost their lives in the call of duty during the last year. Sadly, in Africa alone there have been 32 recorded ranger deaths over the last year, with the vast majority of these lives having been lost during firefights with well-armed poachers.
For me personally, I will be bowing my head in remembrance of Njabula and Vusi who gave their lives for conservation while under my watch –memories of these two brave men are firmly etched into my mind and I so clearly see their silent gravesites standing on the now peaceful green grass-covered slopes. I also honor and remember the many field rangers that I have had the privilege of walking on patrol with and despite the many hardships they always have a smile and a positive outlook. Without these passionate and committed rangers, Africa will be a poorer place and it will loose its wild areas and iconic wildlife. I salute you all!
This conservation photography project is carried out in partnership with the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA) that provides support, networks and representation for game rangers across Africa. This conservation photography project will use rangers as the “lead characters” to highlight the issues faced by conservationists and showcase opportunities for improved support of rangers in the future. Positive and targeted messages will be communicated that emphasise the critical role that rangers play in African conservation in ensuring that the continent’s natural heritage is preserved for the benefit of future generations. Support Africa’s Rangers by supporting the GRAA.
Peter Chadwick is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) whose mission is to further environmental and cultural conservation through photography. The iLCP’s goal is to use the art of high-quality photography to encourage people to take action in support of tangible and meaningful conservation measures.