Park Rangers on the Frontline Being Killed at an Astonishing Rate from India to Thailand to Africa
In the past 10 years, over 1000 park rangers have been killed, 80% of them by commercial poachers and armed militia groups.
The 2015 Honor Roll of Park Rangers killed in the line of duty from Thin Green Line. Our thoughts and respects are with them always. Many more were severely injured, and thousands of poachers and community members we also killed.
Global Conservation is focused on park protection systems to help rangers in their battle against wildlife poaching, illegal logging, mining and deforestation.
We provide park rangers with Global Park Defense - the essential equipment, systems and training to effectively and safely patrol major UNESCO World Heritage and national parks on the front-line of wildlife and forest conservation.
As our parks across Asia, Africa and the Americas are destroyed for greed and survival, we are losing our last safe bastions for critically endangered wildlife and vanishing primary forests around the world.
Park rangers are on the frontlines against heavily armed poachers, illegal loggers and others destroying our parks at night and in the light of day. New technology, systems and training must be deployed to assist out rangers around the world.
"The greatest danger is death," says Salange Kahambu, a park ranger who began working in 2014 at Virungu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Congo. In that time, she has been shot at by a group of poachers. "During patrols we come into contact with armed poachers or groups of armed people staying in the forest," she says. "Whenever there are incidents, there are always deaths."
“Rangers are the guardians of our planet’s most precious natural assets and it’s unnerving to think that every day they go to work, their lives are at risk as a result of human greed and cruelty,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General. “Without solid protection, proper law enforcement and a strong support network for those unsung heroes of conservation, our efforts to protect wildlife are a lost case. Any conservation action should start with supporting those that put their lives on the line to protect it every day.”
Over 200 park rangers have lost their lives in the line of duty in the two years, over 120 of whom have been killed by poachers, according to the 2015 information released by the International Ranger Federation, which has been monitoring ranger deaths since 2000.
2014’s death toll reached 102, with poachers and militia responsible for 69 of those deaths. In Africa, 27 rangers have lost their lives in the line of duty in the last 12 months, with nearly 80% of them killed by poachers. As more deaths are reported every week and as the figures represent only the confirmed deaths from some 35 countries that voluntarily report to the IRF, the actual number of rangers killed in the line of duty worldwide could be two to three times higher.
More than 1,000 rangers have been confirmed killed worldwide and many more injured over the last 10 years.
India, Thailand, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have seen the sharpest increase in ranger deaths caused by poachers in recent years. Areas rich in elephants, rhinos, sandalwood, rosewood and other valuable resources are most affected.
“We are extremely concerned that rangers continue to face high levels of violence and are being murdered at an alarming pace,” says Sean Willmore, President of the International Ranger Federation (IRF). “Although the world is slowly awakening to their plight, we need to convert this awareness to meaningful action on the ground and make sure that the dangerous work rangers do to protect our valuable wildlife receives the support and respect it deserves.”
"It is my great honor to acknowledge the brave and tireless work of the world’s park rangers."
HRH The Duke of Cambridge Prince William
"Wildlife crime has become a serious threat to the sovereignty and the stability of some of our countries. Poachers do not hesitate to fire upon our park rangers. In some countries they are involved in a bush war as intense as any modern conflict."
President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba.
Global Conservation is supporting rangers from a number of high-threat countries to attend the Global Ranger Congress. To support training and equipment of rangers in some of most iconic and endangered UNESCO World Heritage sites and national parks, Get Involved.
In the United States, 1,500 rangers are commissioned law-enforcement officers and attend the same law-enforcement academy in Glynco, Ga., as most federal agents. They ambush drug cartels growing marijuana or operating methamphetamine labs in the park’s forests, arrest drug dealers and rapists and deal with armed suspects, often while working alone in parks where backup may be hours away. “Rangers are the guardians of our planet’s most precious natural assets and it’s unnerving to think that every day they go to work, their lives are at risk as a result of human greed and cruelty,” said Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre, who leads the International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN.
“Without solid protection, proper law enforcement and a strong support network for those unsung heroes of conservation, our efforts to protect wildlife are a lost cause,” said Marton-Lefèvre. “All conservation action should start with supporting those that put their lives on the line to protect nature every day.”
Almost 60 percent of all rangers killed this year are from Asia, with the majority of those from India. India, Thailand, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have seen the sharpest increase in ranger deaths caused by poachers in recent years.
In Thailand, since 2009, up to 50 park rangers have been murdered, 26 injured, and 23 left in a critical condition.
"It's a relentless onslaught," says Johan Jooste, chief commander with South African National Parks (SANParks). "This place gives new meaning to 24/7."