World Ranger Day gives us all the opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the incredible work Rangers do around the world, both men and women who dedicate their lives to protecting the planet’s wildlife and wild places.
African Parks celebrate their Rangers too. They have a team of 1,000 Rangers and it’s growing. As they say, their Rangers are “boots on the ground”
African Parks has 15 parks under its management. That means that 10.5 million hectares are being secured, thanks to the 100,000 plus patrols the Rangers carry out every year. They defend the most remote, wildest and often conflict ridden areas on the continent. Thanks to the Rangers, African Parks can ensure that protected areas have the ecosystem services and opportunities locals deserve. For Rangers help bring jobs, provide education, healthcare and stability.
Examples of Achievements of the African Parks Rangers:
Rangers have decreased elephant poaching by 98% in Garamba in the DRC. Thanks to the better security, there’s a sustainable development plan which will help bring clean water, electricity and education to over 100,000 people around the park.
In Zakouma, Chad, they have practically eliminated poaching and elephant numbers are going up for the first time in decades. And they are working with local communities and reducing illegal activity in the area.
In Chinko in the Central African Republic, they have provided safe harbour people fleeing conflict. 32 of them have been employed to help cattle herders observe the park’s boundary.
Rangers are undertaking very dangerous work, nonetheless, and they need your support. They need continual training, equipment and gear to meet the threat of poaching.
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is a safe refuge for the critically endangered black rhino and the endangered Grevy’s zebra, the elephant, lion, giraffe, wild dog and other iconic wildlife species in Kenya. It is also home to over 400 bird species.
The Conservancy envisions a future when people in Kenya value, protect and benefit from wildlife so that they can derive their day to day livelihoods in ways that are compatible with thriving wildlife habitat.
Lewa has combined the techniques of world-class anti-poaching operations, including cutting edge monitoring technology, with the engagement of the surrounding communities as critical partners in conservation.
There’s bad news from Kuala Lumpur but something is being done in an attempt to reverse a situation.
Back in the 1950s, there were about 3,000 tigers in Malaysia. There are now less than 200 Malayan tigers left as poaching ploughs on, even in the tiger priority state of the Belum-Temengor forest reserve. They are classed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN's Red List.
Poachers are driven by demand for tiger body parts for traditional Chinese medicine and other uses. Hunters from Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia have been drawn to the area.
Poachers have set up thousands of snares, according to WWF Malaysia’s Tiger Landscape, and these have trapped tigers and other wild animals. Deer and wild boar – the tiger’s natural food source – have been caused by poachers and locals who hunt the animals for sport.
The tigers roam the jungle in search of food or a mate but they find it hard or impossible to find food, so haven’t got enough energy to survive or reproduce, which means the tiger numbers have gone down even further.
WWF Malaysia have established patrol teams of indigenous people in Belum Temenggor. These teams undertake daily patrols, retrieve snares and report possible poaching areas. But there’s a lot of the jungle to cover, and these secluded areas aren’t easy to reach. A specialist force with tactical and jungle survival skills is required.
The good news is that the police will be helping the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) rangers to patrol deep in the jungle.
The police have agreed to send two General Operations Force battalions from Senoi Praaq to carry out patrols in identified forest areas. They will be tracking down poachers, especially those helping the Malayan tiger.
The WWF patrol teams have removed about 1,400 snares and released 269 different trapped animals since 2014.
On ITV tonight (that’s Tuesday 30 July 2019) at 9pm UK time, ITV are showing Counting Tigers: A Survival Special and it should make very interesting viewing.
Tiger Numbers fell drastically
There are now just about 4,000 tigers left in the wild around the world and about 60% of those live in India. Estimates suggest that the tiger population has gone down 95% in the last century alone.
India Tiger Survey now takes place every 4 years
India has just undertaken its next tiger survey to count these magnificent animals in the country’s borders. If the tiger numbers go up, there’s hope for the species. If they don’t… The programme has exclusive access to India’s tiger count, an event which takes place every 4 years. The results come in area by area. Please be warned that the programme has terrible evidence of poaching.
What’s behind the fall in tiger numbers?
Their numbers dropped because of people, of course; people encroaching on tiger habitat, and poachers who wanted every bit of the tiger to sell.
India has been changing very rapidly – with roads, railways and industry spreading all over the place which makes it very difficult for the tiger to survive. Trophy hunters also want to shoot tigers, no doubt many of them claiming that’s in the cause of “conservation”.
Greed and ignorance drive the demand for the tiger. Poachers claim 2 tigers a week, often leaving cubs to fend for themselves and try to make it to adulthood.
Poachers need tigers for their fur as luxury home décor, tiger bone to treat rheumatism and arthritis, and to make a tonic wine, as a general bone-strengthening tonic. Tiger bone wine is often use for bribery, and in some places, it’s sold a virility product. Its teeth and claws become jewellery. This is all luxury goods – there is no reason why a tiger body part should be traded at all.
Technology helps the tiger survey in India
Martin Hughes-Games is a campaigner and conservationist and he tracks the new count from its start to finish, using the latest technology to determine numbers. He follows wardens and scientists across the India landscapes.
Camera traps take over 30,000 tiger images, their stripes, (like fingerprints) identify each individual tiger. Mobile phone mapping apps and DNA analysis are used too.
The new technology gives far greater accuracy to the survey. Counting tigers can be dangerous – they have become lighter on their paws and trackers can easily get trapped in the Sunderbans’ marshlands and become prey.
What will happen to the tiger?
Hughes-Games finds that in at least one of India’s 50 conservation parks, the tiger is now extinct. Will other parks find an increase in numbers or have the same sad numbers to report?
Joanna Lumley narrates this programme, and it’s clear that the future of tigers may depend on the efforts of conservationists in India.
Once the count is complete, the documentary reveals whether the number has risen or fallen - a key moment for the survival of the species because if the count shows a decline then this could spell the end for the tiger in the wild, whereas an increase might indicate that this is one of the world’s most successful conservation stories.