What does it mean to be a ranger? Well, according to Google, a ‘ranger’ is a keeper of a park, forest, or area of countryside. By this definition, much of what we loosely refer to as a ‘ranger’ would be correct.
Photographs © Victoria Craddock
As field guides, we are often faced with a case of mistaken identity. Strictly speaking, a field guide is a person who leads and guides people into an environment that has aspects of a natural area, whereas the term ‘game ranger’ refers to people whose central work is the conservation management of a specific area. Since the work of a field guide often overlaps with tasks that are typically ascribed to a ranger, the term has been colloquially adopted by us, the field guides.
Regardless of how you choose to define a ‘ranger’, today is devoted to celebrating those who are custodians of the natural world. In EcoTraining camps, we experience various types of rangers. In celebration let’s highlight the various rangers in our community.
Anti-poaching teams are rangers that risk a lot to protect the wild spaces of the world. At EcoTraining, the APU’s that we interact with the most frequently are the Black Mambas.
The Black Mambas are a unique group of rangers who have devoted themselves to the protection of wild spaces and the wildlife within these spaces. As an unarmed, all-women team, they are pioneers of their task.
Having had the privilege of accompanying Sergeant Felicia Mogakane and Supervisor Collet Ngobeni on a border patrol one morning earlier this year, I was filled with a new appreciation for the work that these rangers do. In the time since the conception of the Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit, poaching in the Balule area has been reduced by 60%!
Photographs © Victoria Craddock
Of course, as a training provider, EcoTraining would not be the institution it is without its expert guides that devote their time and energy to training future guides.
Part of the richness of learning and training with EcoTraining is the wealth of knowledge and wisdom imparted to students by the various instructors. Having high caliber, passionate guides as trainers is a privilege that inspires newly qualified guides to enter the profession with confidence, pride and an awareness of the responsibility carried in the title ‘Field Guide’ or ‘Ranger’.
Guides and Rangers in Training
As part of the Ranger Day celebrations, it is important to acknowledge those who have taken the bold leap in choosing to pursue this life as a career.
It can be a difficult and challenging lifestyle, and alien to relatives and loved ones. They may find it hard to understand why we’ve chosen this life. We’ve chosen it because we are passionate about our role as guardians of the earth and the plants, insects, and wildlife that inhabit it.
Happy World Ranger Day, rangers!
The Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit
EcoTraining interviews two remarkable women of the Black Mambas; Nkatego Mzimba, and Bongani Masingi. They share with us their expectations and experience while being on course with EcoTraining. Their journey is one that many can relate to; and how it’s contributing to the way they perceive and interpret nature, animals, and sounds.
Would you like to support the Black Mambas? You are welcome to visit their website and make a donation: https://www.blackmambas.org/donate.html
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