Cape Town - Conservation across Africa and the world at large wouldn’t be much without its game rangers. And while we would love to highlight every act of greatness as well the very special smaller ones that often go unnoticed - we have these few we've encountered and would like to share as a mere reflection of the spectacular conservation efforts that take place every single day.
1. They are brave, risking life and limb for conservation
Thank you Lawrence Munro, head of the KZN Rhino Operations Unit.
Lawrence Munro heads up the Rhino Operations Unit, the anti-poaching task force for the whole of KwaZulu-Natal. He and his unit work with police and intelligence agencies both in and outside of private and public reserves.
The 39-year-old, who has a young family, is constantly on guard – cautious of the danger it places them in. When he’s working he always carries a weapon and wears a bulletproof vest – and often has to deal with letters addressed to him that say: “we don’t want you around anymore.” Despite the danger, Munro says he is not about to walk away from his job. On the contrary, when his team apprehends poachers he really loves his work. Scott Ramsay shares his story – click here
READ: 7 Magical SA bush stays - have yourself a winter bush escape
2. Their ability to pull story rabbits out of hats makes them family bush book legends
Thank you Isaac from Pretoriuskop, Kruger National Park
“Rangers are often under pressure to deliver sightings to tourists, even though they obviously have no control over the movements of animals. We had the privilege of joining a ranger called Isaac for a night drive around the Pretoriuskop area in the Kruger National Park. As far as animal sightings went, the drive was doomed from the start. In an hour-and-a-half we spotted one hyena and some doe-eyed Impala.
However, he didn’t let the lack of sightings put him off. Instead he stopped ever so often, pointing out interesting details of plants, roads, rocks, stars… and whatever else his eye fell upon. His enthusiasm and ability to pull story rabbits out of his hat, has made him a legend in our family bush books!" – Nadia Krige
READ: The five people you will meet on a game drive
3. They’re passionate, happy people… even at 05:00 in the morning.
Thank you David van Zyl from Sanbona
“One of the more passionate people I’ve met. Singing and whistling even when he picked us up at the lodge at 05:00 in the morning! Apart from everything he knew about the area (even the smallest of insects and little scrubs), and how passionately he taught us about the plants and animals, David was just a pleasure to be around.
He called the cheetah his girlfriend and we could see he was truly in love with this amazing animal. She (the cheetah) knew him well too, because we were able to walk right up to her and her three young cubs without her even getting alarmed.”- Louzel Lombard
READ: Why South Africans need a safari
4. They really care about our living planet and help to make a difference.
Thank you Andrew Zaloumis, head of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Recently awarded the WWF SA Living Planet 2015 Award Andrew Zaloumis, who has he roots in wildlife conservation, runs the 322 000-hectare iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which includes eight percent of South Africa's coastline, was proclaimed and listed as South Africa's first UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999. His work has resulted in the economic turnaround of the Park with meaningful empowerment and benefits to local communities and more sustainable conservation practices.
READ: iSimangaliso - Wild place of superlatives
5. They're school in bush survival and add significance to the lives of those they meet.
Thank you David and Lawrence from Thula Thula
Few bush experiences have impacted me quite as much as my Thula Thula stay - partly due to a run-in with an elephant in musth, because if it wasn't for our quick-thinking ranger David, I doubt I'd be here to tell the tale. But also because of the legacy of the late Elephant Whisperer Lawrence Anthony (Special thanks to Nadia Krige for introducing me). Anthony was not only the author of extraordinary books such as Babylon's Ark and The Last Rhinos, but also an incredible conservationist and activist for the preservation and protection of endangered animals. It is not possible to visit Thula Thula without being touched by this incredible home-grown story or to have their tangible respect for nature and the animals we share this land with be infused into your very being.
Rangers of the world, we salute you. Here are a few meaningful things you can do over and above this one day to celebrate what they do...
1. Plant a tree as a living tribute to Rangers around the world.
2. Make a point of watching an informative conservation documentary such international Ranger documentary The Thin Green Line or Echo: Elephants of the Amboseli.
3. On your next game drive make a point of getting to know your ranger’s full name and share his story in an Instagram image or in your next Facebook post. Better still email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us on Instagram.
4. Find a conservation issue that really moves you to action and get involved, such as the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, WildAid or WWF.
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