World Ranger Day commemorates wildlife rangers killed or injured in the line of duty, and celebrates the work rangers do to protect some of the world’s most endangered animals.
Zoos South Australia (Zoos SA) in partnership with the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) in northern Kenya supports a community-lead ranger program that patrols the Sera Conservancy, one of 26 conservancies managed by the NRT, to prevent poaching and livestock theft.
Spanning 330,000 hectares of wilderness, the Sera Conservancy is home to many threatened species, including the Grey’s Zebra, Cheetah, African Elephant, Beisa Oryx and the African Wild Dog.
Zoos South Australia Director of Life Sciences, Peter Clark says Zoos SA conservation support funds ranger wages, life insurance and education programs for the children of rangers lost in the line of duty.
“Since 2012, Zoos SA has donated approximately $24,000 a year to the Sera ranger program, which comprises of 36 dedicated rangers who provide security to both humans and wildlife,” Peter said.
“Illegal poaching, especially of elephants, is a real challenge for the community, and the job of a ranger is a dangerous one – coming into contact with poachers, cattle rustlers and highway bandits.
“Unfortunately some pay the ultimate price for trying to protect the animals and community they so love. Only recently a ranger was shot dead during an ambush in the conservancy, our support has helped ensure that his children will receive a proper education.”
Not only has Zoos SA conservation support ensured better security for both people and wildlife, it has also boosted the economic livelihood of the community members and funded a variety of community development projects, which has improved living standards.
“Beautifully decorated beadwork produced by the local women under the Beads for Wildlife program has enabled them to start their own small businesses,” Peter said.
“The income that women receive through the sale of beadwork has benefits for both the community and wildlife; it provides an alternative income that improves health and nutrition, helps pay for children’s’ schooling and reduces the communities’ reliance on livestock, leaving more resources for the native wildlife.”
Colourful and unique Beads for Wildlife products can be purchased through the Zoo Shop at either Monarto or Adelaide Zoo.
The next milestone for the Sera Conservancy will see the completion of a Rhino Sanctuary that will see the re-introduction of the critically endangered Black Rhinoceros back into the conservancy, which went extinct in Sera about forty years ago.