The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency’s (MTPA) today celebrated World Rangers Day at Songimvelo Nature Reserve with the intention to celebrate and acknowledge the work performed daily by rangers working in all our protected areas.

World Rangers Day is recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on July 31 and it is an opportunity to celebrate the wonderful work that rangers do worldwide. The rangers work is often dangerous, difficult, unappreciated, unrecognized and even unknown. They dedicate their lives to protect what is not theirs but ours.

“We would like to applaud our rangers working hard in protecting our natural resources and risking their lives out there against fire, animal related deaths or even against poachers. We remain undoubtedly humbled with the work they are performing in the field”, said Mr. Johannes Nobunga, Chief Executive Officer of MTPA.

According to the International Ranger Federation (IRF) Roll of Honour, it has been reported that worldwide, about two rangers are killed every week although that is only partial data, which could be double that amount. In most cases, the majority have been killed by poachers. While the IRF continues to monitor ranger deaths, unfortunately some of those ranger deaths are not recorded. As MTPA, we are fortunate that we have not lost any of the rangers.

“As we celebrate this day, we also take a moment to remember our former Head of Biodiversity Conservation, Mr Abe Sibiya who recently passed on. He started his career in this industry as field range who was dedicated and committed in his work. Mr Sibiya played a pivotal role in the conservation industry and further helped in the establishment of the nature reserves like Mahushe Shongwe, Mthethomusha and Songimvelo Nature Reserves”, commented Nobunga.

“Today we appeal to the communities at large to salute the brave men and women who have paid the ultimate price for conservation by celebrating their lives and indeed their calling on World Rangers Day. This is a chance for us to support their vital work. With poaching still on the rise in South Africa, we cannot afford to have rangers not operating at optimal levels. We are committed to provide the necessary support systems that rangers are so desperately in need of”, added Nobunga.

On this day, we call upon the nation to go out of their way to provide support and care for these formidable protectors of our wildlife

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