World Ranger Day 2021: Significance, Ways To Recognize The 'Under-Appreciated' Heroes

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A ranger patrols in the Dinder National Park
A ranger patrols in the Dinder National Park AFP / ABDULMONAM EASSA

World Ranger Day draws our attention to the many men and women who work to preserve and protect the world's natural and cultural treasures. The day is observed by paying tribute to these often unsung heroes.

It is commemorated every July 31 in the memory of the rangers all around the world who have lost their lives or gotten injured in the line of duty and to celebrate all the work they do.

"Let's pause for a moment to reflect on the courage and sacrifice that Rangers make: by honoring Fallen Rangers and standing with Rangers who bravely undertake their role on the frontline," the International Ranger Federation (IRF) said.

IRF is the organization that works with The Thin Green Line Foundation (TGLF) to provide support for the families of the rangers who lost their lives or got injured while in the line of duty.

'First Line of Defense'

People often don't realize the importance of the job that rangers do. Apart from protecting the people who visit parks, they often put their lives at risk to protect wildlife and wild places from threats such as poaching, smuggling and theft. Essentially, they are the "first line of defense" in protecting the world's precious wildlife and natural resources.

"Park Rangers are generally under-equipped, underpaid, and often under-appreciated," TGLF said. "We think they are heroes."

In 2018, a survey by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) found that one in seven wildlife rangers, or about 14% of them, across Asia and Central America had been seriously injured at work within the last 12 months. At the time, the total number of wildlife rangers that were killed in the preceding decade was already at 871, 107 of whom died just in the year that passed.

Among them, 48 were murdered while protecting wildlife, while 50 died of accidents in the workplace because of how dangerous their job is, IRF President and founder of TGLF, Sean Willmore, noted then.

"But these are not just statistics, these are men and women, rangers, who leave families behind, often with little support except for what we can provide," Willmore said.

From 2009 to 2020, over 1,000 rangers had died while in the line of duty. It is believed that the real number of deaths is actually "much higher" than reported.

Simple Ways To Observe World Ranger Day

There are several ways people can reflect on and honor the sacrifices that rangers make each day in the name of wildlife conservation. One of the important ways people can do that is by recognizing and raising awareness of their hard work and sacrifices.

One simple way to celebrate the day is by posting on social media about it. One can share a photo of themself with friends or colleagues with a World Ranger Day sign and use the hashtags like #WorldRangerDay #StandWithRangers #NaturesProtectors.

People can even share the "Ranger Roll of Honour," which is released each year to recognize the rangers who lost their lives, "ensuring their sacrifice is no forgotten."

One can also visit a park to say thanks to the rangers or perhaps donate to organizations that support them -- younger wildlife warriors may also choose to dress up as Junior Rangers and take the oath to protect parks.


Photo: AFP / ABDULMONAM EASSA

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