World Ranger Day 2017

Event date: 
2017-07-31 12:58


Introduction and background


World Ranger Day commemorates rangers killed or injured in the line of duty, and celebrates the work rangers do to protect the world’s natural and cultural treasures. World Ranger Day is observed annually on the 31st of July, and is promoted by the 63 member associations of the International Ranger Federation (IRF), by the IRF partner the Thin Green Line Foundation, and by individuals who support the work of rangers and the IRF. The first World Ranger Day was observed in 2007 on the 15th anniversary of the founding of the IRF.

In South Africa, game rangers stand up to poachers almost daily as they battle to end the decimation of wildlife species, ranging from the poaching of rhino and abalone to the illegal removal of plants such as cycads and Proteas.

The commemoration of rangers is the brainchild of the International Rangers Federation(IRF). It is promoted by the 54 member associations of the IRF, by its partner the Thin Green Line Foundation, and by individuals who support the work of Rangers and the IRF.

The first World Ranger Day was observed in 2007 on the 15th anniversary of the founding of the IRF. Game Rangers’ Association of Africa (GRAA) The GRAA (member association of the IRF) is a longstanding and well-established defined community of practice.The GRAA provides support, networks and representation for game rangers across Africa.


Message: Stand with rangers on World Ranger Day 2017 

President of the IRF and Managing Director of The Thin Green Line Foundation

To the world’s Rangers & those standing with Rangers to protect wildlife and communities, As we approach World Ranger Day, July 31st 2017, we urge you all around the globe to once again stand with the Rangers of the world in their fight to protect wildlife and wild places.

Sadly, in this past 12 months we have lost a further 105 Rangers in the line of duty (that we know of). These tragic losses will be reflected in this year’s Honour Roll.

Of those killed this year, 42% were at the hands of poachers, 47% in work related accidents, and 11% by the very animals Rangers protect. We know that 45 % were within the IRF’s Africa region, 44% in the Asian region and the remaining 11% were in IRF’s North America, South America, and European regions. Of course, these statistics represent so much than just numbers, percentages and regions. Behind each is a name, a story, a family, a tale of bravery and loss. This is the immense price many Rangers have paid to protect wildlife, culture, communities and this very world we live in.

So we ask you all on this World Ranger Day 2017 to please pause for a moment and reflect on these Rangers and their sacrifice. They deserve to be honoured. And we must also take time to consider their colleagues who still courageously carry on in their roles out in the field each and every day.

Lastly, we ask you to take a photo of yourself, your work colleagues, your family, holding our “I Stand With Rangers…” sign. Please post it, with the listed hashtags, on your social media and on The International Ranger Federation and Thin Green Line Foundation’s Facebook pages.

To all the world’s Rangers: we are growing stronger, with ever-greater numbers of Ranger associations forming and joining, and more supporters standing with us. I know sometimes the challenges in front of us may seem overwhelming and insurmountable – I sometimes feel that too. However, we must keep up this brave fight, for without you, the Rangers on the frontlines of conservation, and your heroic efforts, all hope for a bright future for wildlife and our natural world will be gone. Together, with our supporters, we will overcome these obstacles. You are true heroes of this planet.

I am honoured and humbled to represent you and, as I am each and every day, proud to stand with you on this World Ranger Day.


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South Africa's celebration


DEA and SANParks partner annually to commemorate World Ranger Day. While steps are being taken to find a permanent home for World Ranger Day, the responsibility presently resides with SANParks as the employer of most rangers in South Africa.   DEA provides support at Ministerial and Communications level.

On the occasion of the World Ranger Day 2017, SANParks together with DEA and other partners will commemorate Ranger Day on 29 July at the Pretoria Botanical Gardens for 08:00. 

While a separate event will not be held in South Africa this year, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, will join the CEO of SANParks, Mr Fundisile Mketeni, Eastern Cape provincial government leadership, local community members and rangers in celebrating the work of rangers and their contribution to the expansion of the mountain zebra population in South Africa.

The Mountain Zebra National Park (MZNP) is situated just outside the town of Cradock in the Eastern Cape. It was proclaimed on 3 July 1937 for the purpose of protecting a remnant population of the Cape mountain zebra (Equus zebra zebra). At the time, it was estimated that fewer than 100 Cape mountain zebra survived in South Africa. The Park size has increased considerably over the years, from 1 712ha at proclamation, to 28 386 ha currently.  Added to this the fact that it has, over the years, grown beyond a “species park” to focus on conserving the biodiversity of the region – having re-introduced cheetah, lion, brown hyena, buffalo and black rhino to the area. The Park conserves representative samples of three of South Africa’s biomes – Grassland, Nama-Karoo and Thicket, and conserves 13 red data species plants. The Park is home to cultural heritage spanning hundreds of years, with San rock paintings and etchings, Anglo-Boer War relics and other sites conserved for the benefit of the people of the land.

In September 2017, the Cape Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra zebra)  was  transferred  from Appendix I to Appendix II following the adoption of a proposal by South Africa at the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) held in Johannesburg.

Minister Molewa had delivered an intervention on the consideration of proposals for amendment of Appendices I and II, saying that the Cape Mountain Zebra “subspecies is endemic to South Africa and no longer meets the biological criteria for an Appendix I listing.” The proposal was based on the remarkable recovery from just less than 100 individual animals in the 1990s to a number well over 5 000 in 2016, signifying South Africa’s success in the conservation of the subspecies.

“The Cape Mountain Zebra is well protected in state-owned protected areas. The two original subpopulations in Mountain Zebra National Park and Karoo National Park have doubled since 2004.  The national population has increased steadily since the early 1990s, with the annual rate of increase from 2009 to 2015 measured at just over 9%,” said Minister Molewa.

In August 2015, the population of Cape Mountain Zebra comprised a minimum of around 4 800 individuals in no less than 75 subpopulations that are well distributed over the historical range of the subspecies.  As a result, the Cape Mountain Zebra is no longer threatened with extinction, having recently been assessed as Least Concern in accordance with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.This truly makes MZNP a success story in conservation

The transfer of Cape Mountain Zebra to Appendix II supports the management and conservation of this subspecies, as it opens up additional economic opportunities that can support the expansion of available habitat and better management of subpopulations on private land. 

“Private ranchers currently play an important role in conserving almost a third of the national population and the aim is to strengthen their involvement in the meta-population management of the Cape Mountain Zebra,” said Minister Molewa.

South Africa has already undertaken some analyses and modelling to determine conditions for adaptive management of Cape Mountain Zebra and the setting of off take quotas.

Minister Molewa acknowledged and thanked the South African National Biodiversity Institute, the University of Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, and CapeNature for their collaboration and scientific research in ensuring that a well-informed policy decision is taken relating to the appropriate CITES listing of Cape Mountain Zebra in South Africa. 

The Mountain Zebra Camdeboo Protected Environment was officially declared by the Minister of Environmental Affairs on 1 April 2016, involving 66 landowners and spanning an area of 286 343ha. The Protected Environment is situated between Graaff-Reinet, Nieu-Bethesda, Cradock and Pearston. Its purpose is to maintain the landscape in terms of its scenic, biodiversity and landscape value through collective action by the private landowners and to protect the area from detrimental developments. 

The Protected Environment aims to secure the decidedly valuable high altitudinal grasslands that are found between the two parks and hence promote the functioning of the associated ecosystems and the species that rely on these ecosystems. The Sneeuberg Centre of Endemism is found within this area.

The first draft management plan was submitted to the Minister by the MZCPE Landowner’s Association earlier this year and is aimed at guiding the future management of the Protected Environment for a period of ten years until 2027 through its vision: “Conservation through Collaboration”. 

It is hoped that the Minister can announce the approval of the management plan and officially hand over the signed document to the Landowners Association committee in July.



Media related products



2017 commemoration: Minister Edna Molewa celebrates Game Rangers on World Ranger Day 2017

As South Africa celebrates World Ranger Day today, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, has paid tribute to game rangers who dedicate their lives to the protection of South Africa’s rich biodiversity. World Ranger Day is supported by the International Rangers Federation, and is marked annually on the 31 July to acknowledge game rangers as dedicated guardians of the world’s natural heritage.





2016 commemoration: Minister Edna Molewa celebrates Game Rangers on World Ranger Day 2016

On the occasion of the World Ranger Day today, 31 July 2016, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, has paid homage to game rangers who have dedicated their lives to working to protect South Africa’s wildlife and natural heritage. “In South Africa, our rangers are faced with a daily battle to protect our rhino – an iconic member of the Big Five, an important contributor to our economy through job creation and tourism, and a key part of our natural heritage...





2015 commemoration: Minister Molewa pays tribute to game rangers on World Ranger Day

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, has paid tribute to game rangers working at the coalface of conservation in South Africa. “The work of a ranger is a diverse and complex one. They have and will continue to lead the way for us in conserving our country’s natural wonders in tribute to all that they do, let us follow in their footsteps, each and every one of us,” said Minister Molewa.





2014 commemoration: Deputy Minister Ms Barbara Thomson unveils Ranger Monument at Kruger National Park

“As government we need to boost the morale of rangers by showing them their battle against poachers and other environmental crimes are not in vain. We want to tell you that we understand and fully appreciate that rhino poaching goes much deeper than mere physical security...





Related links / websites / information

International Ranger Federation (IRF)   The Thin Green Line Foundation   South African National Parks   People and Parks  
International Ranger Federation   The Thin Green Line foundation   South African National Parks (SANParks)   People and Parks programme  


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