MARAKELE – World Ranger Day is marked annually on 31 July to commemorate rangers all over the world who have died in the course of their duties and who risk their lives daily as they work at the forefront of conservation. In South Africa, game rangers stand up to poachers almost daily as they battle to end the decimation of wildlife species, particularly the poaching of rhino. Marakele National Park celebrated the day on 1 August 2015.
The commemoration of rangers is the brainchild of the International Rangers Federation (IRF). It is promoted by the 54 member associations of the IRF, by its partner the Thin Green Line Foundation, and by individuals who support the work of Rangers and the IRF. The first World Ranger Day was observed in 2007 on the 15th anniversary of the founding of the IRF. Game Rangers’ Association of Africa (GRAA) The GRAA (member association of the IRF) is a longstanding and well-established defined community of practice. The GRAA provides support, networks and representation for game rangers across Africa.
The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa was the main speaker for the day. “I would like to ask you to join me now in observing a minute of silence in the memory of those who have been hurt, or lost their lives in the cause of conservation; not just here in South Africa, but around the world” said Minister Molewa in her opening address. “It is no coincidence that we as government have chosen the Marakele National Park to host this year’s World Ranger Day celebrations. As you will know, one of Africa’s most iconic species, the rhino, is increasingly under threat from poacher’s gun. Rhino populations around the country are vulnerable, as are the rangers who have dedicated their lives to protecting the animals” added Molewa. “I have been told that it has been nearly two years since the last rhino was poached here in the Marakele National Park, and that during the last incident, the suspects were successfully tracked down, arrested by our rangers” said the Minister. Now more than ever, communities are playing a role in preserving our natural heritage and as we continue to fight the threat of illegal wildfire crime as we are here in Marakele National Park, they become our allies and partners” concluded Molewa. The day was well attended by rangers, councillors and community members around Thabazimbi.
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