Celebrating our wildlife rangers on World Ranger Day!

Wildlife rangers are the heroes of the conservation movement. Without these intrepid, brave and dedicated people, many more orangutans would have died or been stolen from the wild, and 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 vulnerable Critically Endangered orangutans 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 Borneo or Sumatra, it’s hard to imagine just how challenging it is to trek through the heat and the mud, covering vast distances every day, slogging through fast-flowing rivers, sometimes carrying a heavy orangutan through the forest. We are incredibly grateful to all the rangers who work across Borneo and Sumatra to secure the future for these precious species.

The presence of patrols in the forests and guard posts at crucial areas is critical for deterring illegal activities including logging 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 animals from traps and snares or from being stranded in villages or gardens.

Rangers like our APE Guardian team in Borneo are also involved in monitoring released orangutans, taking notes on their progress, photographing them when they can find them, and reporting on how they are adapting to the wild. 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. Rangers are also often called upon to provide assistance to the local authorities when they need to evacuate an injured or captive animal, such as our BORA team rescuing Amil from an abandoned zoo at the start of 2022.

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.

Thank you to all the rangers we work with and support! You are the reason that orangutans are being saved, that large tracts of forest are still standing, and that we have hope for the future of all orangutan species and their forest homes in Borneo and Sumatra.

Below you can see a number of the rangers undertaking this vital work in Borneo and Sumatra, including monitoring orangutans in the wild, rescuing an orangutan, releasing an orangutan, and carrying out other crucial duties such as photography and transporting food for released orangutans.

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