The report, Ranger Perceptions: Africa, was released today at the World Ranger Congress in Colorado, USA. Compiled from a survey of 570 rangers across twelve African countries, the new report found that 82 per cent had faced a life-threatening situation while on duty. A shocking 59 per cent stated they were insufficiently equipped and 42 per cent felt they lacked sufficient training to do their jobs safely and effectively.
The illegal wildlife trade is one of the biggest threats to some of the world's most iconic species. Last year alone, around 30,000 elephants and the highest number of rhinos ever recorded were killed in Africa due to poaching; feeding an illegal wildlife trade that is increasingly being driven by international organised crime.
In many cases, African rangers lack not only sufficient weapons and vehicles, but also more basic necessities like boots, shelter and clean water supplies. Across the continent, there are only a few specialised ranger training centres. But it is not just a question of better tools and training; rangers also deserve improved conditions of employment and greater recognition of their work.
Dr Glyn Davies, Director of Global Programmes at WWF-UK comments:
Criminal activity has accelerated the illegal wildlife trade, resulting in more deaths of vulnerable animals and threats to the valiant rangers trying to protect them. It is important that rangers, who are putting their lives at risk on a daily basis, are given greater support by governments, conservation organisations and local communities. They need effective equipment, training and resources, and to be treated as heroic stewards of our global wildlife."
The latest results echo the findings of a similar survey of Asia's rangers, the majority of whom felt equally ill-equipped to performing their critical frontline tasks. Preliminary results suggest that rangers in Latin America face similar challenges.
The survey found that many African rangers have a poor work/life balance with 47 per cent seeing their families for just five to ten days a month, while rangers ranked low or irregular pay as one of the worst aspects of their job - findings that were also shared by rangers in Asia and Latin America.
A separate WWF ranger insurance study of 33 countries across the globe, which was also released at the World Ranger Congress today, found that rangers are often not adequately covered by insurance. Despite the dangers of their jobs, many rangers lack health insurance (18 per cent of countries surveyed), life insurance (36 per cent) and long-term disability cover (45 per cent).
Chris Galliers, Chairman of the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA) comments:
"It is critical that we have a well-supported, skilled and motivated ranger corps in order to reduce the risk to rangers and their families. We must invest in rangers by putting in place the right support systems as it is this investment that will secure our wild places and wildlife assets for all, forever."
The Ranger Perception surveys will be followed by in-depth reports on working conditions (pay, hours worked, access to equipment, etc.) and a second, more detailed ranger perception survey incorporating in-depth interviews. It is hoped that this large data set will influence and improve government policy towards rangers and their working conditions.
Notes to Editors
Ranger Perceptions: Africa, report available to download here.
Ranger Perceptions: Asia survey was released on World Wildlife Day 2016
Countries taking part in the Africa survey: A total of 570 rangers were surveyed from 65 sites in 12 countries, including Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Ranger is used as a general term to collectively refer to all frontline staff. It is inclusive of wildlife wardens, forest guards, foresters, rangers, scouts, watchers and other frontline field staff.
World Ranger Congress: Attended by over 300 rangers from around the world, the 8th Congress in Colorado, USA focuses on connecting parks, rangers and communities and providing rangers and protected area professionals with the opportunity to learn new skills, share knowledge, create lasting partnerships, and be inspired by their colleagues. www.worldrangercongressusa.com
For further information please contact:
Lianne Mason | WWF-UK's Press Office Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org | +44 (0) 7415230338 | +44 (0)1483 412206
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. panda.org/news for latest news and media resources
Game Rangers Association of Africa provides support, networks and representation for game rangers across Africa. The GRAA believes that game rangers should operate with pride, and with passion for their profession whilst promoting best management practices in ensuring the conservation of our natural heritage. http://www.gameranger.org/