PORT ELIZABETH, 31 July 2018 – The Department of Environmental Affairs in collaboration with South African National Parks (SANParks) today launched World Ranger Day in Addo Elephant National Park.
Deputy Minister Barbara Thomson delivered the commemorative message highlighting the dedication and commitment of South Africa’s rangers as well as the importance of the World Ranger Day. World Ranger Day is observed on the 31st of July each year globally. It is the day to commemorate the many Rangers killed or injured in the line of duty. It is also the day to celebrate the work they do to protect the world’s natural and cultural treasures.
This year SANParks showcased the work done by marine rangers in South Africa’s national parks at the Darlington Dam section of Addo Elephant National Park, highlighting how marine and terrestrial rangers work together to protect the countries natural heritage. South Africa is battling the threat against its wildlife on so many fronts and elephant and rhino are not the only animals at risk of being poached.
“Species such as the abalone are illegally harvested and sea turtles are snared, while illegal fishing and dumping of waste into the oceans is rife. Sharks are caught for the fins, while whales and other ocean species are dying because of overfishing and the amount of plastic and other waste dumped in our oceans,” said Deputy Minister Thomson. “As a result, much of the Ranger Corps duties are being focused on anti-poaching operations. SANParks rangers undergo extensive training supported by canine units, small air wing aircraft, as well as sophisticated technology as part of its anti-poaching operations.”
“Our rangers are facing daily hardships in their efforts to protect many of our species, such as the elephant, rhino, cycad, pangolin and abalone from poachers. Our country’s natural heritage derived from our enormous biodiversity is a key income generator for tourism and thus an important contributor to our economy through job creation and tourism,” added Deputy Minister Thomson.
The minister also thanked SANParks for its significant role in providing the Rangers with the necessary support in terms of specialised training and equipment to enable them to respond effectively to incidents. However, if it was not for these excellent women and men who daily risk their lives to protect species in our country, many species would face extinction she added.
She expressed her sadness and condemned the killing of rangers particularly in the Kruger National Park(KNP), which is mostly the target of poaching activities. “I would like to pay a special tribute to our departed rangers for dedicating their lives while protecting our wildlife. In the past weekend, Respect Mathebula, field ranger based in KNP was shot and killed while on a counter-poaching operation.”
As part of World Ranger Day activities, 27 elephants were moved from the main Addo game viewing area to roam in the Darlington section of the park. By expanding the range of the elephant the pressure on the environment and on the herds roaming in the Addo region will be alleviated. It is thanks to the sponsorship by the Network for Animals that this first group of elephants comprising of three family groups is being relocated to this recently-fenced area.
In conclusion, she thanked SANParks Honorary Rangers for offering their time to contribute to conservation and the elimination of wildlife crimes. “These volunteers do not get paid for the work they do assist rangers out in the field. They volunteer their free time and resources out of their sheer love of conservation. Let us follow their example by committing ourselves to work together to protect our wonderful world.”
If you would like to support ranger health and wellness, funds can be donated to the SANParks Ranger Support at:
Account Name: SANP – Fundraising
Account Number: 62411915054
Reference: Ranger Support.
READ MORE on this topic: World Ranger Day 2018: Mozambique.