The Protectors

Rampaging wildlife. Poachers and, sometimes, rebel forces. Harsh climatic conditions. The job of the wildlife ranger may vary by day, but one factor remains the same: how difficult the job can be.

At any given moment, a ranger must be prepared to act as a soldier, a law enforcement officer, a community liaison, a naturalist or even a medic.

These wildlife heroes are on the front lines of the poaching and trafficking war. But in addition to those dangers, they may also confront aggressive wildlife, local community members encroaching upon protected areas or some other unexpected occurrence.

Day after day, these men and women risk their lives to protect the natural spaces that provide services on which urban and rural communities depend.

In doing so, they also protect millions of jobs provided through Africa’s multibillion-dollar tourism industry. Park rangers don’t just save wildlife—they save our livelihoods, and our life-giving ecosystems too.

From monitoring the health of protected areas, to mitigating human-wildlife conflict, to keeping wildlife safe from poachers, park rangers need our support.

To enhance the capacity of these brave men and women, AWF provides essential training, familiarizing rangers with ecological monitoring equipment that enables them to record sightings of wildlife and signs of poachers, and to then analyze this data to inform future patrols.

Additionally, AWF helps provide the equipment rangers need for their day-to-day patrols: smartphones, binoculars, uniforms, boots and food rations.

Housing is another major necessity. The very nature of their job requires wildlife rangers to live in remote locales, away from their families, while they are working. AWF has therefore funded the construction of ranger housing and outposts, which in some cases have also included solar panels and water tanks to provide for greater comfort and working capacity.

It takes a special person to put on a ranger uniform and go into the bush every day to protect wildlife. We’re doing all we can to make sure these protectors have everything they need—they deserve nothing less.

Photos: Phil Perry Wildlife Photography Nasson Tembo African Wildlife Foundation Zeleke Abuhay Fiesta Warinwa Teeku Patel Paul Thomson Abiaz Rwamwiri Mohammed Hashim

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