Is Asia most dangerous continent for rangers?
Statistics from the International Ranger Federation (IRF) and Thin Green Line Foundation found that of the 52 named rangers killed worldwide in the past 12 months, 33 were from Asia, while preliminary results from a WWF survey found that 93% of rangers surveyed across 12 tiger range countries had faced life threatening situations.
“It’s a dangerous job and bravery is not enough,” said Rohit Singh, President of the Ranger Federation of Asia (RFA) and WWF Enforcement Specialist. “Poaching is at critical levels across Asia and these heroic men and women must have the necessary tools and training to do their job safely and successfully.”
“Across the world the inherent dangers of being a ranger are compounded by lack of adequate training and equipment. While global numbers of ranger deaths may be lower than previous years, that is small consolation to the 52 families to have buried a loved one,” said Sean Wilmore, President of the International Ranger Federation & Director of The Thin Green Line Foundation.
Rangers are the first line of defence for the world’s endangered species, many of which are threatened by the unprecedented surge in wildlife crime. The current global poaching crisis is increasingly driven by international organised criminal networks, which have brought greater violence and danger with them.
Recognition of the threat posed by the illegal wildlife trade has grown over the past two years. Just yesterday, the UN General Assembly adopted the first ever resolution on wildlife crime. This historic agreement follows international conferences on the crisis in London, Kasane and Brazzaville.
In February, representatives from 13 Asian countries committed to immediate action to stamp out poaching across the region at a Zero Poaching summit in Nepal, which highlighted the critical role of rangers. But despite this, the world’s wildlife heroes are still being overlooked.
“Rangers are critical to anti-poaching efforts and should be a professional arm of a country’s civil defence but many governments are not making this essential investment,” said Mike Baltzer, Leader, WWF Tigers Alive Initiative. “As the first pillar of any anti-poaching plan, rangers must be properly equipped, trained and motivated – otherwise the whole plan will fail.”
The WWF Asia Ranger Perception Survey 2015 aims to provide insights into ranger working conditions and motivations. The full survey will be released later this year.