In response to the urgent poaching crisis facing Asia and Africa, the International Ranger Federation (IRF), Ranger Federation of Asia (RFA), PAMS Foundation and WWF announced today a joint initiative to work together to improve ranger standards and welfare across Asia.
“Rangers are our frontline troops in the battle against poaching. They daily put their lives at risk and yet many are low paid, ill-equipped and poorly trained,” said Wayne Lotter, Vice President of the IRF. “It is time we worked together to ensure the men and women who dedicate their lives to protecting the world’s creatures and wild places get the respect and support they deserve.”
Rangers include wildlife wardens, forest guards, foresters, scouts, watchers and any other frontline staff involved in operations and patrolling. 2012 data from WWF covering 135 critical tiger sites showed that 64% of rangers were inadequately equipped and 66% inadequately trained.
“I have asked thousands of rangers whether they would want their children to be a ranger,” said Rohit Singh, President of the RFA. “I have never had a positive response. It’s time we made being a ranger a career to be proud of.”
The initiative will run from July 31 2014 to July 31 2017 with the aim of significantly raising the profile of rangers in the region and improving working conditions and capabilities of rangers, first in Asia and then in other critical regions. Actions will focus on raising awareness of the importance of rangers, the need for increased professionalism, development and promotion of ranger standards and welfare and will also strengthen the Ranger Federation of Asia including supporting their first meeting next year.
The initiative will initially consist of the IRF, RFA, PAMS Foundation and WWF with other organizations being engaged on a project-by-project basis.
“The survival and recovery of highly threatened species such as the tiger is dependent on an effective ranger force in Asia,” said Mike Baltzer, Leader, WWF Tigers Alive Initiative. “Without dedicated well-trained, well-equipped rangers, the tiger will go extinct. We welcome this initiative as it will take us a long way towards creating that effective and valued ranger force.”