Message of CITES Secretary-General for World Ranger Day 2019

World Ranger Day 2019

Message from CITES Secretary-General, Ivonne Higuero

31 July 2019

On World Ranger Day 2019, let’s join up to reflect upon the important role and selfless work of
park rangers around the world in their fight to protect wildlife!

World Ranger Day 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 high levels of poaching and illegal trade in wildlife observed in recent years continues to persist, and the involvement of organized crime groups in these crimes are today well recognized. These organized crime groups often have well developed networks, access to resources, well-armed participants, and use violence or threats of violence to achieve their goals. Their activities directly impact on the daily work of rangers, escalating the challenges and risks faced by these rangers in the execution of their duties.

Honest and hardworking park rangers devote their lives to protecting our natural resources and cultural heritage. In some areas these brave men and women regularly encounter well-resourced groups of poachers, equipped with high caliber weapons, and in the face of great danger determinedly perform their duties, often without the recompense allocated to their counterparts in other enforcement agencies. The dedication and devotion of the hard-working park rangers is worthy of much greater public recognition.

On World Ranger Day 2019, the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) joins the rest of the world in saluting those honest and hardworking park rangers who are serving in the frontlines, 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.

The best way to pay our tribute to these brave men and women is to give our concrete support to these frontline fighters and their families. The 183 Parties to CITES along with hundreds of interested international and national organizations will gather in Geneva from 17 to 28 August at the World Wildlife Conference - CITES CoP18, where they will decide upon a bold range of measures to further enhance collective efforts to tackle wildlife crime.

One of the working documents to be discussed at CoP18 specifically addresses the working conditions of wildlife rangers, highlighting the importance of adequate training, resources and working conditions, enabling rangers to effectively perform their task to protect wildlife at source and contributing to the objectives of  CITES. The CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme elaborated upon below, is already making an important contribution in this regard in a number of sites in Africa. This work has included the provision of basic field equipment, improvements to water and power supplies, basic and advanced training in field craft, and the enhancement of communications equipment and infrastructure.

CITES MIKE and MIKES

This occasion offers the CITES Secretariat an opportunity to again draw attention to the work being done under the CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme. MIKE was developed by CITES to strengthen individual and institutional capacity in elephant range States in Africa and Asia to manage and protect their elephant populations. Working with well over 1,700 park rangers and data-management officers in Africa, MIKE has hosted over 100 training programmes since 2008.  This work was further expanded under the Minimizing the Illegal Killing of Elephants and Other Endangered Species (MIKES) project, generously funded by the European Union, to provide practical and real time support to rangers who are serving in the field in eight selected focal sites.

As part of the programme, a site-level Law Enforcement Capacity Assessment (LECA) was designed to assess the effort and resources employed by participating range States in the detection and prevention of illegal killing of elephants.  These assessments have been done in 51 MIKE sites, helping to better understand the status of wildlife law enforcement efforts at the conservation area level, to pinpoint where further capacity support is needed, and to monitor progress in strengthening wildlife law enforcement capacity in these areas.

Additional support from the government of Japan has also helped construct ranger outposts and operational bases in Mozambique, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.