Rangers from the three national parks in the Northern region of South African National Parks(SANParks) came together at Marakele National Park today (29 July 2016) to commemorate World Rangers’ Day. World Rangers’ Day is observed on the 31st of July each year. It is the day to commemorate the many rangers killed or injured in the line of duty and to celebrate rangers and the work they do to protect the world’s natural and cultural treasures.
World Ranger Day is promoted by the 54 member associations of the International Ranger Federation (IRF). The first World Rangers’ Day was observed in 2007 on the 15th anniversary of the founding of the IRF. During the past ten years, about 1000 rangers lost their lives worldwide, most of them due to poaching activities.
Whilst normal working hours for an average person is eight hours a day, rangers work long hours and sometimes under a lot of pressure to protect the world’s cultural and natural heritage for the enjoyment of the people. They are responsible for the smile on people’s faces when they wake up in the morning by ensuring the survival of little birds to wake people up with cheerful chirping, announcing a brand new day.
It was on that note that rangers from Mapungubwe National Park in the far North, Golden Gate Highlands National Park in the Eastern Free State and Marakele National Park converged in Marakele, outside Thabazimbi in Limpopo to commemorate the day. The event was also attended by the Honorary Rangers, South African Police Services (SAPS) amongst other stakeholders.
“On a daily basis throughout the world rangers put their lives in danger to take care of and protect our natural environment. The on-going onslaught of the rhino makes their lives to be in danger every minute and therefore it is befitting to pay tribute to them on this special day” said Conrad Strauss, Acting Regional Manager and Park Manager of Mapungubwe National Park in his key-note address.
“In today’s life you will struggle to open any media without reading/watching about the attack on our rhino, on social media people openly share how heartbroken they are, crying about the constant loss of these animals. Very few people understand the emotions our rangers go through during these trying times; an attack on the rhino and other animals is an attack on our rangers both physically and psychologically. The rangers spend time and brave the cold winter nights making sure that our animals are protected, and therefore need our support at all times.” concluded Strauss.
As part of the celebration, the rangers put on a simulated poaching incident/K9 System, first aid and beautiful displays of the fire drills. They concluded the event by taking their rangers pledge.