Kruger National Park remembered rangers who died in the line of duty, as the international community celebrated the World Ranger Day.
SanParks lost 11 guardians in the past 12 months.
Rangers often come into contact with poachers armed with high calibre rifles who do not hesitate to take human life.
The Democratic Republic of Congo was the hardest-hit.
Kruger National Park Field Ranger, Checkers Mashego, is one of 13 rangers who died in South Africa.
Kruger National Park managing executive, Gareth Coleman, says they are working to adequately equip the rangers.
“We face a particular challenge in the Kruger National Park because we have such a large number of concentration on rhinos. So with the large attention that comes, it means that rangers have to be both well prepared and well protected. It takes a toll on people and their mental health. We do have programmes in place to try and help rangers to deal with the things in their heads when they have on daily basis deal with the occasion into the Kruger National Park,” says Coleman.
More than 715 poaching activities have been recorded at the Kruger National Park in the first six months of this year.
A total of 125 people have been arrested for alleged rhino poaching or dealing in rhino horn across the country since January.
Kruger National Park head ranger, Cathy Dreyer, says rangers are faced with multiple challenges in their day’s work.
” Obviously with COVID-19, our budget has been severely affected. So we had to tighten the straps which is very difficult. And also the challenges for rangers are numerous like working on a big open system, so it is always dangerous animals and the rangers are very comfortable working in the bush. But not only the animals that they have to face now poachers or people that are coming in to kill the wildlife and also other crimes related to wildlife,” says Dreyer.
The organisation, Honorary Ranger in the Lowveld, has raised over R200 million for conservation programmes.
Chairperson Pieter de Bruyn has urged citizens to contribute towards the protection of the wild.
“Plants are being taken from the park. So it is not only rhino. I think rhino it is the most emotional poaching incident. But there are many flora and fauna that can be taken from the park and the that rangers have to be fully equipped to be able to do their tasks better. If you can contribute be it financially or assets. I plead with the public out there to donate,” says de Bruyn.
Like many sectors in the country, tourism is also impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Kruger National Park is confident that it will recover from the slump in tourists.