At a time when environmental protection has never been more important for the future of our planet, the jobs of rangers have arguably never been as vital or dangerous. And yet ask someone to name a well-known ranger, and most will struggle. On World Ranger Day, we want to put names and faces to just a few of these men and women who work under extraordinary pressure, in often dangerous terrain, for little pay, glory or security, to protect wild habitats and wild creatures in the face of ever growing threats from the thriving illegal wildlife trade. Rangers don’t just chase down poachers; they are in many ways the diplomats of the wildlife world, serving as vital links to tourists and communities who live alongside animals, protecting them as much as the animals, and ensuring that national parks remain safe and protected havens for all.
Luís Daúde, Niassa Special Reserve Ranger
Luís Daúde is a ranger and operations room radio operator in Niassa Special Reserve, Mozambique, a vast park the size of Switzerland which witnessed some of the worst elephant poaching on the continent. Between 2011 and 2016 alone, Niassa lost more than 8,000 elephants to the illegal wildlife trade. In 2003, poachers shot 22 young and adult elephants inside the reserve, a day Luis recalls as one of the saddest of his career. Since then however, strengthened patrols and surveillance, stricter penalties for poaching and increased collaboration between the government, NGOs and communities has resulted in a park turn-around – with no elephant poaching reported in the last two years. “Elephants are similar to human beings,” says Luis. “The way elephants live in societies and organise themselves are the same as humans. I feel it is important to conserve the environment, especially wild animals, because I am leaving an important legacy for future generations. I encourage everyone to be ready to preserve the environment.”