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World Ranger Day honours the guardians of the wilderness

World Ranger Day is celebrated annually on July 31 to acknowledge the important contribution of rangers to conservation and to honour them for their courage and dedication. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

World Ranger Day is celebrated annually on July 31 to acknowledge the important contribution of rangers to conservation and to honour them for their courage and dedication. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 1, 2022

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Cape Town - SANParks together with other conservation organisations hosted a webinar on how to recognise the contribution rangers make to ensure the protection of the natural environment.

Wildlife rangers across the country shared stories of their conservation work and how it has become increasingly demanding and dangerous.

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SANParks Honorary Rangers Board chairperson Paul Colditz said: “Today on World Ranger Day under the theme ‘Guardians of the Wilderness’, we honour our rangers who face challenges, dangers and difficulties on a daily basis to protect our precious wildlife and the wilderness. We also pay tribute to those who have died in the line of duty.”

WWF South Africa wildlife trafficking hub lead, Craig Hay, said that rangers traditionally has a role as guardians and protectors of wildlife and landscapes wherein they dealt with wildlife management issues, research and tourism with an element of law enforcement.

However, Hay said rangers faced growing pressures over the past decade, including increased rhino and elephant poaching, so their roles changed almost exclusively to encompass enforcement and protection roles.

World Ranger Day comes just a few days after the murder of wildlife ranger Anton Mzimba from the Timbavati Game Reserve near the Kruger National Park. Mzimba was gunned down outside his home.

World Ranger Day comes just a few days after the murder of wildlife ranger Anton Mzimba from the Timbavati Game Reserve near Kruger National Park Picture: SUPPLIED

Environment Minister Barbara Creecy gave a special tribute to Mzimba for his dedication to conservation and promoting sound relations between conservation authorities and communities living on the outskirts of protected areas.

SANParks Table Mountain National Park manager Frans van Rooyen thanked the rangers for risking their lives to protect the country’s natural resources, heritage fauna and flora, marine life and visitors.

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Spatial planning and environment Mayco member Eddie Andrews said the rangers deployed at the nature reserves under the City’s management had many responsibilities and were well-versed in biodiversity management.

“Their roles include everything from safety and security duties to reserve maintenance, and the removal of invasive species to carrying out community surveys and managing encounters with wildlife at the reserve if the need arises,” Andrews said.

SANParks honorary ranger Francois Wolfaardt at Kruger National Park, the heart of South Africa's bush. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

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