Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Celebrating Keepers of the Wild anniversary

6 March, 2012 - 10:29 -- World Land Trust
Rangers in the Brazilian nature reserve

Discover more about the lives and work of our rangers who protect some of the most threatened habitats and wildlife on Earth

It has been a year since World Land Trust (WLT) launched its ranger programme to help our partners protect nature reserves and their threatened wildlife across the world.

Funds raised through Keepers of the Wild has enabled us to put more rangers in the field to carry out important conservation work, to raise awareness about environmental issues within local communities, and to protect threatened habitats and wildlife from illegal hunting and logging.

WLT sent out a questionnaire to discover more about the lives and work of our rangers, who protect threatened habitats and rare species in some of the most remote and beautiful parts of the world:

Margarita Island, Venezuela

Rangers are protecting some of the most beautiful places on Earth, like Margarita Island off the north coast of Venezuela. © Provita.

1. Do you think your work is important?

All the rangers believed that their work was essential in protecting threatened habitats and wildlife.

Ranger Pablo Millán from Venezuela said: “I visit many places on Margarita Island and I don’t see the same diversity of plants and animals that I see in the nature 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.”

2. Has your life changed since becoming a ranger?

All the rangers described how their life had improved; for many, it has been their first secure job with a regular income, enabling them to provide for their family. They take great pride in their work and being a ranger is highly regarded within the local community.

Ranger Abel Reséndiz from Mexico explains: “I really appreciate no longer having to earn money as a migrant worker in the USA. I’m convinced the forests and animals are in trouble and they need all our help."

Puma in Belize

Pumas are found in a large number of WLT-funded nature reserves throughout Central and South America. © Terry McManus.

3. Is there a species you would love to see?

It perhaps isn’t surprising that nearly all the rangers named a Big Cat as the animal they would most like to see: be it the Jaguar, the Puma or the Leopard. 

Ranger José Acaro from Ecuador said: “The puma is the animal that I would like to see most in the wild because it is beautiful and mysterious, but of course I don’t know what I would do if one was in front of me!” 

4. What is the most difficult part of your job?

Many highlighted that a lack of rangers and equipment made their long hours and already physically demanding work even harder.

Ranger Galo Vélez from Ecuador said: “It would be good to have two people in the reserve all the time; with the expansion of the reserve we need more rangers.” 

5. What is the best part of your job?

Without doubt, the rangers described the beauty of the environment and the wildlife that they help protect as being the most rewarding part of their job. They enjoyed sharing this passion with local people – their friends, family and neighbours – and raising awareness about the importance of protecting the natural world.

Ranger Berjaya Elahan from Borneo said: “Being a reserve ranger has changed my life; I have learnt to better appreciate the Earth’s environment and wildlife. As a ranger I am now able to share my passion for conservation, especially in protecting wildlife and nature.”

6. Do local people want more land protected?

Ranger tree planting in Brazil

Ranger Antonio helps a local boy plant trees in the rainforest reserve in Brazil. Rangers work successfully with local communities to raise environmental awareness. © REGUA.

Rangers who had been working in the area for a few years felt that local people were seeing the benefits of environmental protection and were very supportive of their work. However, some communities feared that an increase in protected nature reserves would lead to a lack of farm land for agriculture.

Ranger Galo from Ecuador said: “Some people think that protected areas are good, others want protected areas away from the villages because they don’t see direct benefits from the reserves and see them as impediments to their development. I believe more advice is needed on how to increase agriculture production on smaller amounts of land.”

7. Does your government do enough to support conservation?

None of the rangers felt that their governments were doing enough to support conservation in their country, although some said they had seen improvements in recent years with a few successful initiatives. Yet they would all like more prolonged support.

Ranger Messias Gomes da Silva from Brazil said: “I believe the state and municipal governments could do much more for conservation, although the state authorities did successfully organise a training course for both the Three Peaks State Park and REGUA Rangers.” He added: “I would like the Forest State Police to patrol with the REGUA Rangers at least once a year; their presence becomes an intimidating factor to hunters in the area.”

Rangers’ success

The threat of illegal hunting, logging and environmental damage will be a continuous issue that our partners must face as they try and protect more of the planet’s most threatened habitats and wildlife.

Yet with support from dedicated rangers they not only ensure the day-to-day protection of the nature reveres, but by working with local people to raise awareness about environmental issues they are also securing the long-term success of our conservation projects.

More information

Comments

Submitted by Dominic Belfield on

It is great to hear some of these testimonies from "the boots on the ground" - and very encouraging to reflect on the multiple benefits which accrue from this kind of funding of posts in the reserves. Again I'm obliged to see this as an 'investment' of the highest worth, from our short term perspective but more so from future generations' requirements.

I went to the recent seminar given by the top man at the Ranch of Hopes reserve in Patagonia when he was over in London in January, and it became clear what an inspired piece of conservation funding this whole project has been and - crucially - still is and will continue to be.

Although the ranch continues to need our financial support, it represents superb value for money from a wildlife preservation perspective. Guillermo Harris is a busy man, carrying out important wildlife assessments as well as successfully lobbying the local government to become more wildlife friendly ( they've recently created an official great big nature reserve just south of ours). And for instance, tackle the terrible problem of oil tankers sloshing out their holding tanks after delivering their oil cargos at the nearby oil terminal and leaving serious oil pollution which has had a damaging effect on the local penguin population. Now, thanks to our man in Patagonia, proper restrictions are being imposed on the tankers and the incidents of oiled seabirds have dropped significantly. What would be the point of having a scintillating balance sheet for the ranch, if the resident seabirds were dying on their feet because no one there had the time or inclination to lobby the local authorities on the issue?

It's often amazing (actually frightening) how thin the little green line is between wildlife being destroyed and people caring and being able to act effectively because they have some hard-cash support behind them. We're clearly doing this on the Patagonian coast amongst all the others reserves sites WLT is helping to create and maintain.

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