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Unsung Heroes of Wildlife Conservation: Why July 31 is Observed as World Ranger Day

World Ranger Day is also held to commemorate rangers killed or injured in the line of duty.

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Updated:July 31, 2019, 11:24 AM IST
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Unsung Heroes of Wildlife Conservation: Why July 31 is Observed as World Ranger Day
World Ranger Day is also held to commemorate rangers killed or injured in the line of duty.
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Every year, thousands of rangers across the world risk their lives to protect protected areas from threats such as poaching and vandalism. The World Ranger Day is observed annually on July 31 to honour these brave people.

“World Ranger Day recognises and celebrates the accomplishments and work done by rangers around the world, giving their lives to protect natural and cultural resources,” according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.

World Ranger Day is also held to commemorate rangers killed or injured in the line of duty, and is promoted by the 63 member associations of the International Ranger Federation (IRF) and by individuals who support the work of rangers and the IRF.

The first World Ranger Day was observed in 2007 on the 15th anniversary of the founding of the IRF.

The IRF defines a ranger as a person involved in the “practical protection and preservation of all aspects of wild areas, historical and cultural sites.”

According to a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) 2018 report, one in 15 wildlife rangers surveyed across Asia and Central Africa had broken a bone on the job during the same timeframe while one in eight had sustained another type of serious injury within the last 12 months of the survey. The survey also revealed that 82 percent of rangers in Africa and 63 percent of rangers in Asia had faced a life-threatening situation while performing their duty.

The United Nations calls rangers as the “unsung heroes of wildlife conservation.”

For example, the global body says, the population numbers of mountain gorillas have doubled in the last 30 years thanks to effective protection of their habitats by rangers.

“There are many angles from which we can look at the important work of rangers and eco-guards,” according to Johannes Refisch, the UN Environment Programme’s coordinator of the Great Apes Survival Partnership. “Mountain gorillas are a fantastic example: not a single mountain gorilla was killed in the last 10 years.”

“However, we should not forget the important work of rangers in ‘conflict parks’ in the Democratic Republic of the Congo—Garama, Virunga, Maiko and Kahuzi-Biega,” says Refisch. “The Virunga park alone has lost 200 rangers in 20 years.”

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