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Minister Edna Molewa celebrates Game Rangers on World Ranger Day 2016

31 July 2016

 

On the occasion of the World Ranger Day today, 31 July 2016, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, has paid homage to game rangers who have dedicated their lives to working to protect South Africa’s wildlife and natural heritage.

“In South Africa, our rangers are faced with a daily battle to protect our rhino – an iconic member of the Big Five, an important contributor to our economy through job creation and tourism, and a key part of our natural heritage. Were it not for these brave men and women who risk their lives daily to protect species in our natural world, many species would face extinction,” said Minister Molewa.

World Ranger Day is supported by the International Rangers Federation, and is marked annually on the 31 July to acknowledge game rangers, as dedicated guardians of the world’s natural heritage.

The Minister, however, expressed sadness that some rangers bow to temptation and become involved in wildlife crime vowing that any conservation official caught breaking the law by getting involved in poaching would face the full might of the law.

This week a SANParks Regional Ranger based in the Kruger National Park (KNP) together with a veterinary technician from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) Animal Health Directorate in Skukuza were arrested in the Park on suspicion of involvement in for rhino poaching.

The men were arrested by SANParks field rangers on regular patrol. A fresh White Rhino carcass, two horns, a riffle and other poaching equipment was also recovered.

“It is troubling to hear that one of our own Rangers, tasked with protecting these animals, should be involved in such a heinous crime. However we should commend our Field Rangers whose quick actions led to the apprehension of the suspects,” said Minister Molewa.

The Minister commended the dedication and commitment of the rangers who were placed in the difficult position of having to arrest one of their own.

“The despicable actions of one unprincipled Ranger should never be allowed to detract from the reality that most of our Rangers are honest and principled,” said the Minister.

Minister Molewa joined SANParks in paying their respects to rangers who have been killed and injured in the line of duty in the past year.

Earlier this year ranger Enos Mabila was killed and his colleague Killers Ubisi wounded in the line of duty in the Kruger National Park.  These are only the two latest of similar incidents involving rangers, police and defence force members working to combat rhino poaching in recent years.

In the past week, a Kruger National Park regional ranger, Don English, was attacked and injured by a buffalo during a routine buffalo sustainable off-take exercise.  He remains in a stable condition in a Nelspruit hospital.   Another ranger was accidentally short during an encounter with a buffalo in the Park in January this year.

“The attacks on rangers, by man and animal, are a reminder of the daily threats they face from poachers, and the dangers they face when working with wild animals on any given day,” said the Minister. “While many of us sleep soundly at home every night, it is the Ranger who is at the forefront of that battle line.”

World Ranger Day is observed on the 31st of July each year. It is the day to commemorate the many Rangers killed or injured in the line of duty. It is also the day to celebrate Rangers and the work they do to protect the world's natural and cultural treasures.

SANParks have been playing a significant role by providing the rangers with necessary support in terms  of specialised training and equipment to enable them to respond effectively to incidents.

Paying tribute to the SANParks Honorary Rangers, Minister Molewa thanked the volunteers for offering their free time to contribute to conservation and the elimination of wildlife crimes.

“These volunteers do not get paid for the work they do assisting rangers out in the field.  What they do, whether over weekends or at night, is simply for the love of conservation.  It is an example that can be followed by all of us as we join hands and work together to ensure the survival of species of plants and wildlife for generations to come,” said the Minister. 

For media inquiries contact:

Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871