World Ranger Day 2021
Message from CITES Secretary-General, Ivonne Higuero
31 July 2021
World Ranger Day is a time to pause, reflect and show our gratitude for the dedication and sacrifice of some of nature’s most devote custodians.
Rangers play a central and multifaceted role in the conservation of some of the most vulnerable ecosystems on our planet. Whether it’s in tropical forests, wide open savannahs, or unforgiving mountainous wildlife reserves, rangers from all regions carry out their essential work every day.
They are the first line of defense against poaching, illegal harvesting, and other forms of wildlife crime. Rangers are also instrumental in mitigating human-wildlife conflict, often working closely with Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities who live amongst and rely on wildlife and biodiversity. Rangers are further indispensable to conservation initiatives, providing much-needed insights and data from the ground.
They often perform these tasks at great personal risk. Sadly, more than 1,000 rangers have been killed in the course of their duties over the last decade, further underscoring the inherent danger of their work.
At CITES we know the immense debt we owe these courageous women and men. The CITES Secretariat closely work with Rangers through the CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants programme – or MIKE. Through this programme, we directly engage with and support the work of Rangers in Africa and Asia, striving to build and strengthen capacity in elephant range States so that Rangers can continue gathering key information in support of the conservation of the species.
Through MIKE and the repeated commitments of Parties at successive meetings of the Conference of the Parties to CITES, the Convention has consistently sought to support Rangers. Parties have always been keenly aware of the need to continue ensuring Rangers receive adequate funding and capacity-building.
The pandemic has had a tremendous impact on countries around the world, inevitably also negatively affecting some of the sources of income that have traditionally generated funding to support the work of Rangers.
We cannot neglect these essential guardians of nature. Now more than ever Governments and other relevant stakeholders must step up efforts to ensure that Rangers continue to receive the equipment, support and funding required to continue their essential work without interruption. This is also important to advancing our commitments under the Sustainable Development Agenda.
Rangers everywhere are part of a much-needed solution to restore our relationship with nature. By shielding wildlife and their habitats from harm, they help us preserve ecosystems and the livelihoods they sustain.
We must ensure we do all we can to allow them to continue their important work, on all corners of the world. On this World Ranger Day, we celebrate the important work of Rangers and also mourn the loss of those that paid the ultimate price in the execution of their duties. I ask you to join me in supporting the men and women who stand for nature and to show Rangers our gratitude through action.