World Ranger Day honours park rangers across the world who have been injured or lost their lives in the line of duty, and also celebrates the role rangers play in protecting our natural resources, including wild animals and plants. It was first observed in 2007, on the 15th anniversary of the founding of the International Ranger Federation (IRF).
The challenges and risks that rangers face have increased significantly in recent years. Illegal trade in wildlife is occurring at a scale that threatens wildlife, people and their livelihoods and it is increasingly being committed by organized crime groups, rebel militia groups and, on rare occasions, rogue elements of regular military forces.
- Rangers of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Honest hard working park rangers devote their lives to protecting our natural resources and cultural heritage and in some areas, these brave men and women regularly encounter well-resourced groups of poachers, equipped with high caliber weapons, who do not hesitate to use violence or threats of violence against them. Yet these devoted rangers determinedly perform their duties, often without the recompense allocated to their counterparts in other enforcement agencies.
The dedication and commitment shown by these honest hard working park rangers on a daily basis is worthy of much greater public recognition and the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) therefore warmly welcomes World Ranger Day.
This occasion offers the CITES Secretariat an opportunity to again draw attention to the work being done under the Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme. MIKE was developed by CITES to strengthen individual and institutional capacity in elephant range States to manage and protect their elephant populations. Working with over 1,500 park rangers and data-management officers in Africa, MIKE has hosted over 80 training programmes since 2008. This work is being further expanded under the Minimizing the Illegal Killing of Elephants and Other Endangered Species (MIKES) programme that will provide practical and real time support to rangers who are serving in the field in selected sites.
The CITES Secretariat applauds the work done by the IRF, and charities such as the Thin Green Line Foundation, to support honest hard working park rangers and the families of fallen rangers. We also commend National Geographic for giving the 2015 Explorer Awards to Virunga National Park rangers "in recognition of the rangers’ tireless efforts to halt illegal wildlife trafficking." They are a good example of the honest hard working park rangers.
Geneva, 31 July 2015