How You Can Help a Wildlife Ranger

Animal poaching is a growing problem around the world and impacts our natural environment negatively. However, anti-poaching wildlife rangers are working to  arrest the poachers and prevent their illegal hunting. Being a wildlife ranger is no easy task. These rangers risk their lives each day to save all types of animals. The living conditions can be rough and the work is dangerous.  They do this work despite the fact they have families at home because is a global critical need. For many of us, it is not feasible to become a ranger, but we want to help. YOU could help end wildlife poaching by helping those who are actively fighting against it each day.

One way to help a ranger is to let them know just how much they inspire and impact others. You can do this by writing a thank you card or email to a specific ranger or to a unit of rangers. This encouragement will show them that their work does matter. It reminds them that those who want to end poaching, but can’t physically go to remote areas, are with them in their efforts. Long thank you letters including what you appreciate, and how you are spreading the word and changing people’s minds, will encourage the rangers who risking their lives. However, even just writing a short thank you with a few words will allow them to feel your encouragement.  Below are some anti-poaching groups, primarily non-governmental organizations (NGOs), that you may want to consider supporting.

African Parks Foundation boasts the largest ranger force of any NGO in Africa, with over 1,000 rangers.  African Parks is fully responsible for the law enforcement of 15 parks however the rangers are act as a security force, not only for the parks but also surrounding regions.  Their website states “In 2017 alone, our rangers conducted almost 113,159 ranger patrol days, made 501 arrests, removed 48,151 snares and made 54,493 confiscations were made across all the parks. …The thousands of foot, horseback, boat, vehicle and aerial patrols we conduct year-round are also complemented by networks of supporting communities who provide information on poachers and other illegal activities.”  Sign up for their updates here.

Frankfurt Zoological Society supports around 30 conservation programmes and projects in 18 countries; all programs focus on conserving biodiversity habitat in wilderness areas in central and eastern Europe, in east Africa, in central South America and in south-east Asia. While they don’t have any programs that can put you in touch with a ranger, they have fee-based memberships and animal sponsorship programs where you can help provide for six types of charismatic animals.

Virunga Fund helps the 600 brave women and men who work to protect Virunga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  They go through rigorous training programs in tactical combat, civil and criminal policies, humanitarian protection, and advanced first-aid to become qualified to serve; only a fraction of those who apply complete the training.  These strong and resilient civil servants put their lives at risk every day. They patrol the park, and use satellite and GIS technology, as well as canine units, to stay ahead of poachers. Check out their donation page or follow them on social media.

Wildlife Conservation Society works across the globe on both land and aquatic species.  They focus on “iconic” animals because if they can survive, they help protect all biodiversity “that shelters under their conservation canopy.”  Like most NGOs, they work with many partners to ensure good biological science, community knowledge and input, and local governments all factor into conservation decisions made on the ground level.  Their communications strategy We Stand for Wildlife will surely stir your compassion and commitment. They have provided a link here for you to write a note to Thank a Ranger.  It only takes a minute and you can subscribe for WCS updates on the same page.  Let’s do this!

Zoological Society of London works in over 50 countries on eight large-scale conservation initiatives including the protection of ‘animals on the edge,’ inspiring the next generation, developing conservation technology, and working with businesses to mitigate their negative impacts on ecosystems.  From their website, you can download the United for Wildlife – Minecraft – We Are Rangers game, search their site for the many stories about the daily life of wildlife rangers and eocguards (like Stéphane Marel Madjaye based in Cameroon), or learn about the technology that rangers and other “good guys” use to thwart wildlife criminals and learn about a particular species’ behavior.

African Wildlife Foundation is working in African nations to actively protect wildlife from poachers. They use a variety of methods to track and catch poachers and have several projects to help communities affected by poaching. You can choose an address to mail your thank you card (or care package!) on their website’s contact page, and using the power of social media, share some of the stories on their site about these amazing people.  

Wild Chimpanzee Foundation is an organization works in Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Guinea with a goal to end poaching of chimpanzees, improve their habitat, and prevent them from disease passed on by humans.  One of their projects is an ecotourism experience in Taï National Park. You can learn more about the project here, and find their email address to thank them for all of the work they do to preserve chimp habitat!   See a full profile of their amazing staff here, including the ecoguides (!), and contact them here.

Sea Shepherd Global is an organization that is working at sea all over the world to protect sea animals from illegal poaching. You can learn more about their programs, how to get involved,  and find an address to mail your thank you card by visiting their website’s location page.

   Additionally, you can reach out specifically to rangers through various “adopt a ranger” or “support a ranger” campaigns.  These programs not only help rangers in their line of duty by supporting them financially, but lets them know there are people across the globe cheering them on! The finances go toward buying gear, canine unit sponsors, as well as training for rangers. When you adopt a ranger, you typically get news updates of “your” ranger and their team and will get to see how your donations are helping. Some of the programs that Fanimal identified are:

Global Conservation Force Adopt a Ranger

World Wildlife Fund

Elephant Cooperation

International Rhino Foundation Blog

Fanimal would especially like to highlight The Thin Green Line Foundation. This foundation supports Park Rangers and Conservationists that are on the front lines working on battling poaching. They also provide information on how you can help on World Ranger Day which occurs every year on July 31st. They have great resources on ways you can help donate and get involved.

Another action that supports rangers’ work is to spread the word about poaching. By educating people around you about the negative effects these poachers are causing, you can hopefully inspire others  to stand up against poaching. Some ways you can do this is by posting flyers, posting on social media, and talking directly to your family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. However, if you are a teacher, you can spread the word to your students by implementing the school education program formed by the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF). Their website includes a section for teachers with learning material about animal poaching and how anti-poaching rangers are working to combat this problem. Some of the material you will find include: a student activity workbook, videos, and a teacher handbook with lesson plans and answers.  Additionally, The Thin Green Line also has resources for teachers and ways to engage in their work.

Fundraising for anti-poaching units is certainly very helpful as well. You can sell baked goods, organize a yard sale or a car wash and all proceeds can go to help the many rangers protecting our wildlife.

Animal poaching is changing the world’s ecosystems by driving certain species into extinction. Thousands of animals are losing their lives, however anti-poacher rangers are tracking and arresting many poachers. You can still help save the lives of animals by supporting a ranger: write them a thank you, fundraise, adopt a ranger, and educate those around you. If we all come together and put efforts toward helping wildlife rangers, we can hopefully end poaching and save animals from injury and death.

Sources: African Wildlife Foundation, Elephant Cooperation, Global Conservation Force, International Anti-Poaching Foundation, International Rhino Foundation Blog, Reserve Protection Agency, Rhino Horn Coffee Company, Sea Shepherd Global, Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, World Wildlife Foundation

Photo credit: World Wildlife Fund