When I met my first ranger on the ground in Zambia, he was just coming off an extended patrol. A sturdy man in his late twenties still in keen command of his rifle, he conferred with a few colleagues before jumping in my 4x4 and said, “Let’s Go. I will take you to them.”
“Them” meant some of the last Southern White Rhino in Zambia being protected by the park rangers. He explained a team followed the herd daily to the best of their abilities. Yet other than their own boots on the grounds, primitive radios, and weathered guns they had no other complementary equipment to help monitor their safety amid the threat of poaching.
It is common to find that rangers are underequipped for their extremely dangerous jobs in protecting our natural and cultural resources. Indeed, there are remarkable organizations such as Game Rangers International who have set up anti-poaching units in national parks to complement the unstable support from the government and a fragmented few private reserves that have brought in technical intelligence, but it’s not enough to consistently defend and support the rangers across the over 8,400 protected areas in Africa.
Besides protecting wildlife, these professionals often have other key responsibilities where ensuring they are outfitted, trained, and prepared mentally and physically are key. After my new ranger friend escorted us back from the clearing where we were honored to silently respect the dining habits of these grand grunting creatures whose only crime is parading their protrusion, he proudly said that the next day he had the honor or setting fire to prevent fire.
Although I was in the region for work not play, I joked that I hoped chaperoning two technologists wasn’t part of his everyday tasks. In not so many words, he pointedly told me if it weren’t for people like me and my partner, he wouldn’t have a job as those park fees and tourism dollars feed him and his family. We drove him back to his station where he thanked us for the opportunity to share the magnificence of the animals he has the privilege to protect.
It was this statement that has forever stayed with and driven me in my anti-poaching mission. It is important to know and appreciate the breadth of responsibilities these men and women have on the ground to be able to understand their intrinsic role in protecting the planet.
¹Life on the Front Line 2019: A global survey of the working conditions of rangers. WWF.
²The Thin Blue Line Foundation. 2018.
Jenna is the co-founder of Zambezi Partners whose mission is to eradicate poaching in our lifetime with investment and technology.
David Yarrow: Uncut
If You Care, Please Share
EMMY® Award-Winner Debra Messing, OSCAR® Nominee Djimon Hounsou and more Round out the Program for Endangered Rangers
Josh Duhamel to Host Endangered Rangers Virtual Fundraiser on 12/13/2020
It's Black RHINO Friday!
Wildlife's BFF are Dogs
Three Tech Innovations Making Poaching 'Extinct'
The 6 Righteous Roles of Rangers
Help the Rangers. Save the Animals.