Elephants have but one natural predator, and that is humans. These majestic animals are being hunted down for their ivory by poachers. The illegal ivory trade leaves around 55 elephants killed every single day.
The good news is that people are working to stop poachers in their tracks - those brave individuals are park rangers. Sadly, many wildlife rangers lose their lives in the wild parks protecting these endangered species.
To honor those working in this field, World Ranger Day was created. It is now celebrated around the world every single year on July 31. This specific date was chosen because it is the founding date for the International Ranger Federation (IRF), an organization that supports the work of rangers around the world.
In honor of this special day, we want to share the vital job that rangers play in wildlife and wild elephant conservation.
What is a wildlife ranger?
A wildlife ranger is a professional conservationist who protects and manages national parks, areas and wildlife. They are referred to as wildlife wardens, forest guards, scouts and watches. Rangers come from different parts of the world to protect wildlife areas. Their job requires them to leave behind their homes and families for long periods.
The role of rangers
Protecting wildlife is a key role for rangers. How they are able to accomplish this ultimately depends on the areas they are protecting. Here are some of the common responsibilities that wildlife rangers have to accomplish.
Monitor wildlife areas
Rangers have the responsibility of continually monitoring specific wildlife areas. These wildlife professionals do protocols on land and sea no matter the weather. They use vehicles, airplanes and AI technology to make sure everyone is safe. If there is an intruder, rangers act as law enforcement in these areas and can make arrests.
As part of protecting wildlife, rangers must be on the constant lookout for poachers. These people capture or kill animals for a sport or to make a profit. Elephants, rhinos and tigers are some of the many animals killed by poachers every year.
Preventing poaching is a dangerous part of their job because they could lose animals and their lives. The Thin Green Line Foundation reports that between 2009 and 2016, there were 595 rangers killed by poachers.
Reduce human-wildlife conflicts
Due to habitat loss, deforestation or human encroachment, many animals find themselves with less space to roam. These animals can invade humans’ crops and villages, putting their lives and the lives of humans at risk. Rangers help reduce human-wildlife conflict through monitoring and implementing wildlife and wild elephant conservation strategies.
Educate local communities about conservation
One of the best ways to conserve wildlife is through education. Park rangers educate local communities about the importance of wildlife conservation and ecology. These wildlife professionals also support local communities by helping them access clean water, build predator-proof fencing and practice sustainable farming.
How to help wildlife elephant conservation
At For Elephants, we work with wildlife rangers. We have an endocrinology lab at Elephants Alive headquarters in South Africa. There we conduct research that improves the lives of wild and zoo elephants around the world. You can support our research with a one-time donation or by joining our Herd of Heroes program. Donate down below!