In areas where many endangered species live, wildlife rangers stand between the animals and poachers. Animal meat, bones, or tusks can command great sums on the black market, and poachers use cruel and deadly tactics against both the animals and the rangers who care for them. Rangers can also be targeted in civil war and unrest. Sean Willmore of the International Ranger Federation told National Geographic that worldwide, two rangers are killed each week, but that number is likely a conservative estimate.
An article in National Geographic, “For Rangers on the Front Lines of Anti-Poaching Wars, Daily Trauma,” discusses in detail the challenges faced by rangers and the horrors endured by animals targeted by poachers. Interestingly, despite the danger, many feel called to be rangers and applicants far exceed positions.
I appreciate the work of the rangers, but they should not have to give their lives to protect these animals, and the lives of these animals should not be at risk. The international community must vigorously and relentlessly persecute black market traders while educating consumers about the risks to wildlife.