Survey of rangers protecting the last wild tigers unearths that many lack support for basic needs
Posted on 03 February 2022Amid the 4th Asian Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation and ahead of the launch of the 2022 Year of the Tiger, WWF urges governments to step up to keep tigers and rangers safe:
A WWF survey of rangers in tiger landscapes has shown over 85 per cent of rangers believe their job is dangerous due to the chance of encountering poachers and wildlife. As nature continues to decline across the world, worsened by unrelenting levels of illegal and unsustainable logging and rampant poaching, wildlife rangers are some of the planet’s most vital protectors.
The results from this first survey on the working conditions of government rangers focused on areas with wild tigers reveal the harsh realities of their work. More rangers have lost their lives in Asia in the last 15 years than any other region of the world according to data from the International Ranger Federation. The publication, Life on the Frontline of Tiger Protection, presents results from 1,599 surveys filled by public sector patrol rangers at their places of work – which included more than one hundred conservation areas across ten tiger range states.
Lack of basic necessities such as access to clean drinking water are among some of the starkest findings with less than half of rangers indicating they have access to clean drinking water on patrols. The fact that 55 per cent of rangers surveyed stated that they never or rarely have access to communication devices during patrol is a particularly troubling finding. The inability to communicate information in real time makes an already dangerous job far riskier.
Considering the many shortcomings outlined in the report, it is alarming that a considerable majority of rangers (about two-thirds) said they were not provided with insurance coverage for serious injury or on-the-job death. This not only puts rangers working in tiger landscapes at considerable risk, but their families as well.
When comparing conditions of rangers within to those outside tiger conservation areas, the most common finding was that those outside tiger areas reported slightly better working conditions in the majority of countries. This is concerning given the incredible biodiversity of tiger landscapes in addition to the cultural and economic importance of the species itself.
Preliminary results also suggest that most tiger range countries do not currently have rangers at adequate densities in their tiger landscapes - this is particularly the case in Southeast Asia where regionally tiger numbers continue to decline. Tiger range countries need to make raising the density of well-trained, responsible rangers in tiger landscapes a topmost priority.
Although rangers in tiger landscapes reported considerably fewer instances of conflict with community members than were reported through the combined global survey, there remains a vital onus on ranger employers to engage with local peoples in ways that improve dialogue and trust. Where feasible tiger range country governments should empower or support indigenous peoples and local communities to carry out local patrolling activities in their landscapes, in coordination with the government. Such initiatives - as other career and citizen science opportunities pertinent to ranger work - represent constructive engagement, and can contribute to reduced tensions between rangers and local peoples.
This week at the 4th Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation government and nongovernmental experts are working to advance the preservation of the largest and most endangered big cat species. This meeting will set the tone and process for negotiating the next 12 year plan for tiger conservation. Time is of the essence on this point, as the second Global Tiger Summit will be held only 7 months after in Vladivostok, Russia. WWF is calling upon tiger range governments to urgently review and address shortcomings that are limiting the effectiveness and wellbeing of rangers and as a result, endangering tigers and other wildlife.
WWF aims to work closely with governments and other concerned partners to address the issues outlined in the survey and ensure rangers in tiger landscapes are supported as other public service professions putting their lives on the line to work toward providing us all with a better world.
“One of the challenges I face as a ranger is that I often must be far from my family and I’m cut off from the outside world. This makes my family worry constantly about me, but they are not able to contact me because of lack of communication means” said a ranger and survey participant from India.
“What I love most about being a forest ranger is that it allows me to be in the forest as if I were in my own home. I’ve loved the forest since I was little because I was born near the forest. My parents are also forest rangers” said a ranger and survey participant from Indonesia.
“There can be no wild tigers without rangers. More, better trained, better equipped and responsible boots on the ground is key to tiger recovery” said Rohit Singh, Director Wildlife Enforcement and Zero Poaching.
WWF is a member of the Universal Ranger Support Alliance (URSA), a collaborative initiative of eight conservation organisations who aim to ensure a global enabling environment providing a unified voice for rangers and standards for capacity, employment, equality and conduct to build a demonstrably professional, accountable and competent ranger workforce, whose contributions are formally recognized and respected.
For more information please contact:
Jennifer Roberts | WWF | email@example.com
Download the report in full here.