Wildlife rangers are the heroes of the conservation movement. Without these brave and dedicated people, many more Sumatran tigers would have died or been poached for their skin, teeth and other body parts. And much more forest would have fallen to the bulldozer or the chainsaw. Each year on July 31, World Ranger Day, we pay tribute to these courageous souls who never give up and never give in.
Wildlife rangers are the last line of defence between Critically Endangered tigers and humans. It’s not an easy job, but it’s rewarding for those who take on the challenge. Rangers often talk about the challenges of distance, working far from their homes and families, as well as the ruggedness of the forest and the lack of communication and wifi signals. They can be away from home for weeks at a time, and there are restrictions to the number of items they can carry such as food and water.
Unless you’ve been to the forests of Sumatra, it’s hard to imagine just how challenging it is to trek through the heat and the mud, covering vast distances every day, and sometimes even slogging through fast-flowing rivers. We are incredibly grateful to all the rangers who work across Sumatra to secure the future for Sumatran tigers.
The presence of patrols in the forests and villages is critical for deterring illegal activities including illegal logging, poaching and hunting. While patrolling the forest is a major part of their role, rangers also engage with communities, teach children, search for evidence of wildlife crime, and of course rescue Sumatran tigers from snares, sometimes being asked to provide urgent medical care in the middle of the jungle.
Rangers like those in our new Tiger Patrol Team (see below) in West Sumatra are helping protect a tiny but critically important population of Sumatran tigers through community engagement, patrolling the forest, and establishing brand new camera traps. Rangers like the Wildlife Protection Units in the Bukit Tigapuluh Ecosystem in Sumatra remove snares from the forest, which have been set to capture species like deer or wild boar. They are also often called upon to provide assistance to the local authorities when they need to evacuate an injured animal.
Another key aspect of their job is to engage with and educate communities and indigenous people based in and near the forests. As nearly all rangers are hired from local communities, they are able to build good relationships with farmers and villagers, providing insight into the importance of protecting their local environment to sustain healthy forests, rivers and oceans. Rangers meet with villagers in their fields, with women at revegetation sites, and with children in their classrooms, spreading the message of conservation. Below you can see the Mobile Education Unit providing environmental education to children in the Bukit Tigapuluh Ecosystem in Sumatra.
Thank you to all the rangers we work with and support! You are the reason that tigers are being protected from poaching and rescued from snares, that large tracts of forest are still standing, and that we have hope for the future of all tigers and their forest homes across Sumatra.
Below you can see one of our Wildlife Rangers dismantling a snare in the Bukit Tigapuluh Ecosystem, a collection of snares removed by the Sumatran Ranger Project in the Leuser Ecosystem, and our newly recruited Tiger Team who will patrol the West Sumatran forest of Nagari Sontang.