Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa has paid tribute to game rangers who have dedicated their lives to the protection of South Africa’s rich biodiversity. File picture

As South Africa celebrates World Ranger Day on Monday, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, has paid tribute to game rangers who have dedicated their lives to the protection of South Africa’s rich biodiversity.

“Rangers in certain parts of South Africa face daily hardships in their efforts to protect many of our species, such as the elephant, rhino, cycad and abalone, from unscrupulous poachers.  

Our country’s natural beauty derived from our enormous biodiversity is a key income generator and thus an important contributor to our economy through job creation and tourism. It is through the actions of these brave men and women, who risk their lives daily to protect our natural world and our many species,” said Molewa.

World Ranger Day is supported by the International Rangers Federation, and is marked annually on the July 31 to acknowledge game rangers as dedicated guardians of the world’s natural heritage.

She said that because South Africa was battling a threat against its wildlife on so many fronts, most of the Ranger Corps had been converted to anti-poaching units. 

“They are well trained and supported by canine units, small air wings, and relevant technology.”

The Minister says the Rhino Guardian project launched in the Kruger National Park in January 2017 as part of efforts to increase the black rhino population is being undertaken with the support of the Peace Parks Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund – South Africa.

“Our approach includes a priority response by task teams when incursions occur that could threaten black rhinos.  We have dedicated biological management and science support that use innovative techniques to inform efficient protection by our field rangers.”  

She also acknowledged the efforts of the SANParks Honorary Rangers, who volunteered their time to help combat wildlife crime. 

“As we remember those rangers across the world who have lost their lives protecting our natural heritage, let us follow their example by committing ourselves to working together  protect our wonderful world, (ensuring) the survival of species of plants and wildlife for generations to come.”

The Mercury