Saving threatened habitats worldwide

New ranger protecting wildlife in Venezuela

21 June, 2011 - 14:22 -- World Land Trust

Creating conservation awareness within local communities while protecting threatened wildlife from hunters is the great challenge for the new reserve ranger in Venezuela

Franklin Vasquez - Keeper of the Wild

Franklin Vásquez, WLT Keeper of the Wild, in the Chacaracual Community Conservation Area, Venezuela. Photo © Provita.

Franklin Vásquez is the World Land Trust’s (WLT) first reserve ranger on Margarita Island, off the east coast of Venezuela, to be funded by the Keepers of the Wild appeal. Franklin will be working for Provita (a WLT partner) to help protect and manage the Chacaracual Community Conservation Area (CCCA), a 1,729 acre (700 hectare) wildlife reserve that is home to the threatened Yellow-shouldered Parrot. The Keepers of the Wild appeal will fund Franklin’s salary for one year, ensuring that there are more rangers in the field to help protect wildlife from hunters and poachers, while safeguarding its habitat from destruction. An important part of Franklin’s role will be helping the community of El Horcón on the development of their plant nurseries; Provita works closely with local communities to secure the long-term success of their conservation projects. Franklin has already developed plans to further the commitment and involvement of local communities in the management of the reserve, and he hopes to recruit more rangers and develop a long-term action plan for the reserve. He has vast experience in creating zoning and development plans for protected areas; he has a degree in Environment and Development and has worked as a field assistant with several Venezuelan conservation organisations. He will soon send photographs and share his experience of being WLT’s official Keeper of the Wild.

Insight into a ranger’s work: from poacher threats to fledgling success

Chacaracual Community Conservation Area

The CCCA is protected by Franklin and the other rangers working for Provita. Photo © Provita.

One of Franklin’s co-workers is 45-year-old Pablo Millán, who has worked with Provita for more than 20 years. Pablo’s main role is to watch for hunters and prevent them from taking wildlife. He said:

“The hardest part of my work is dealing with poachers and hunters; I often have to talk them into leaving the reserve, sometimes they bring weapons and we don’t know what they are capable of.”

All of the rangers who work on WLT funded reserves are unarmed, yet must often face the threat of armed hunters. The reason they do this is because of their commitment to the wildlife and habitat they are protecting. Pablo said:

“I am convinced my job is very important; I visit many places on Margarita Island and I don’t see the same diversity of plants and animals that I see in the reserve, this is because we prevent people from damaging wildlife in the area. We don’t do this for ourselves – we do this for the plants and animals, so they survive and don’t become extinct.”

Part of Pablo’s job is to make artificial nests for the Yellow-shouldered Parrot and ensuring that they can breed safety. He said:

“It gives me great satisfaction when I see the fledglings coming out of their nests. I feel enormous happiness when I watch them flying, knowing that they are free.”

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