Lack of support endangers wildlife rangers

Posted on March, 03 2016

World Wildlife Day survey says more support needed for the people that protect the planet's wildlife
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – The men and women who protect the planet’s wildlife feel they lack support from governments to enable them to do their do jobs safely, the results of an Asia-based survey released on World Wildlife Day shows. 

Ranger Perceptions: Asia surveyed 530 rangers across 11 tiger range countries and found that 63 per cent had faced a life-threatening situation, 74 per cent of rangers felt they were ill-equipped and 48 per cent felt they lacked adequate training. Surveys from other regions will be released in the coming months.

“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.”

The survey also found that many rangers have a poor work/life balance with 45 per cent of rangers seeing their families for less than five days a month, while 30 per cent of rangers ranked low or irregular pay as one of the worst aspects of their jobs.

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 organized criminal networks, which increase the risk of violence and danger for rangers.

Recognition of the threat posed by the illegal wildlife trade has grown over the past two years. Last year the first-ever resolution on wildlife crime was adopted by the UN General Assembly. This historic agreement follows international conferences on the crisis in London, Kasane and Brazzaville.

“The future of our wildlife is literally in the hands of rangers,” said Elisabeth McLellan, Head WWF International's Wildlife Crime Initiative. “Rangers must be treated as a professional arm of a country’s natural heritage protection but many governments are not making this essential investment.”

The aim of the survey is to provide a snapshot of ranger working conditions, and gain insight into the factors that affect the motivation of rangers. Similar surveys are underway across Africa and South America.

These will be followed by in-depth reports on working condition indicators (pay, hours worked, access to equipment, etc.) and a second, more detailed ranger perception survey incorporating in-depth interviews. It is hoped that this large data set will influence and improve government policy towards rangers and their working conditions.

Findings from the ranger perception surveys will be presented at the 8th World Ranger Congress this May in Colorado, USA. This event will focus on connecting parks, rangers and communities and providing rangers and protected area professionals the opportunity to learn new skills, share knowledge, create lasting partnerships, and be inspired by their colleagues. 

World Wildlife Day aims to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants, the theme this year is “the future of wildlife is in our hands”.
Ranger in the rain - Kuiburi National Park, Thailand.
© Alex Walsh / WWF
A ranger in Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan, spends some time with his son.
© Rohit Singh / WWF