South Africa World Rangers' Day: Wildlife crime continues to threaten biodiversity
South Africa has just marked the International World Rangers' Day. The Minister of Environment praised the country's rangers for helping to reduce wildlife crime, but said poaching remains a big threat to biodiversity. CGTN's René Del Carme has more.
A solemn moment of respect and honour for field rangers killed in the line of duty, protecting the natural heritage in South African National Parks and other protected areas around the world. Rangers in the Kruger National Park remembered one of their own who was slain in a deadly poaching incident a year ago. And South Africa's Minister of Environment led a celebration of the dedication, courage and commitment of these men and women in green.
BARBARA CREECY ENVIRONMENT FISHERIES MINISTER, SOUTH AFRICA "We recognize that these rangers are working under, very, very severe conditions. They are engaged frequently in armed interactions with poachers. It's extremely stressful. It puts a lot of stress on their families as well."
NICHOLUS FUNDA CHIEF RANGER, KRUGER NATIONAL PARK "To give a picture of what a ranger is. More especially in Kruger National Park. We've changed from rangers to soldiers. Maybe that's the reason we're wearing this uniform today. And I'd like to thank them for what they've done."
The Minister said 769 rhinos had been poached in South Africa in 2018. And 318 rhinos poached in the country in the first half of 2019.
A modest decline compared to last year, which she attributed to the blood, sweat, tears and bravery of the rangers on the ground.
ORIFHA NETSHIPAKONI FIELD RANGER, KRUGER NATIONAL PARK "For me to be a ranger, I feel so honoured. When people see me going to work, they just say she's going to work. But to me, I'm going to war. Immediately when I wear this uniform, I'm in a war."
ANDREW DESMET SECTION RANGER, KRUGER NATIONAL PARK "I was very fortunate, in that I got shot five times back in 2013 and managed to survive. Some of our colleagues haven't been that lucky."
BARBARA CREECY ENVIRONMENT FISHERIES MINISTER, SOUTH AFRICA "We want to salute them for their bravery and their courage. And we want to say that they are doing a very important job. That it's not just about the park today. But, it's about the protection of our country's resources. So that future generations will also enjoy the wildlife that we have today."
RENE DEL CARME KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH AFRICA "The Minister said the South African Government's National Development Plan required it to leave future generations an environmental endowment, at least equal to the one the country had now."
A commitment these men and women risk their lives for every day. René Del Carme, CGTN, Cape Town. South Africa.