World Ranger Day 2013: Message from the CITES Secretary-General, John E. Scanlon
Geneva, Switzerland, 31 July 2013
World Ranger Day was first observed in 2007, on the 15th anniversary of the founding of the International Ranger Federation (IRF). It honours park rangers across the world who have been injured or lost their lives in the line of duty, and also celebrates the role rangers play in protecting our natural resources, including wild animals and plants.
The challenges and risks that rangers face have increased significantly in recent years. Illegal trade in wildlife is occurring at a scale that threatens wildlife, people and their livelihoods and it is increasingly being committed by organized crime groups, rebel militia groups and, on rare occasions, rogue elements of regular military forces. Park rangers devote their lives to protecting our natural resources and cultural heritage and in some areas, these brave men and women regularly encounter well-resourced groups of poachers, equipped with high caliber weapons, who do not hesitate to use violence or threats of violence against them. Yet they determinedly perform their duties, often without the recompense allocated to their counterparts in other enforcement agencies. The dedication and commitment shown by park rangers on a daily basis is worthy of much greater public recognition and the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) therefore warmly welcomes World Ranger Day.
This occasion offers the CITES Secretariat an opportunity to draw attention to the work being done under the Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme. MIKE was developed by CITES to strengthen individual and institutional capacity in elephant range States to manage and protect their elephant populations. Working with over 1,500 park rangers and data-management officers in Africa, MIKE has hosted over 80 training programmes in the past five years.
The CITES Secretariat applauds the work done by the IRF, and charities such as the Thin Green Line Foundation, to support park rangers and the families of fallen rangers. The IRF’s participation in the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (Bangkok, March 2013), and in related events on wildlife law enforcement, was highly appreciated by CITES Parties and observers.
The CITES Secretariat joins the rest of the world in saluting park rangers, in recognition of their dedicated work to protect our natural resources and cultural heritage for current and future generations. On this special day, we also carry in our thoughts the park rangers who have paid the ultimate price in the execution of their duties, as well as the families and friends they have left behind.
We send you our very best wishes for the celebration of World Ranger Day.
John E. Scanlon
Geneva, 31 July, 2013