Malawi currently has about 500 wildlife rangers of its minimum need of 1000 game rangers for the country’s wildlife parks and reserves.
Director of National Parks and Wildlife, Brighton Kumchedwa said this in an interview with Mana on the sidelines of World Ranger Day celebrations organized by Department of National Parks and Wildlife.
He said Malawi needs to invest in wildlife ranger training and welfare.
Kumchedwa said apart from lacking equipment and welfare support, rangers are working more hours and lack safe water and housing.
“I want to assure our rangers that as a wildlife directorate we will do everything possible to alleviate their suffering, and will continue to support them by building their capacity through training and equipping them with basic field gear as they battle against poachers,” the Director said.
He said the job of rangers is enormous and that they need to be celebrated.
“If Malawi can point at some wildlife, then we owe it to the rangers. Every day these brave men and women put their lives at risk to protect our endangered flora and fauna, tracking and detaining poachers, monitoring animals and preventing wildlife crime.
“Year in and year out, they brave bitter cold and searing heat in honor of their pledge to protect wildlife,” he said.
Kumchedwa called on communities around wildlife reserves and all citizens to play a role in fighting wildlife crime which rangers are fighting every day.
“Malawi still faces the challenge of poaching and transnational, organized criminal syndicates involved in the illegal trade and trafficking of wildlife.
“While this is a responsibility that rests squarely on the shoulders of each one of us, rangers are the men and women that work at the sharp end of wildlife crime,” he said.
Jasper Iepema, Sanctuary Manager at Lilongwe Wildlife Centre said there is need for more partner support for rangers to do their work effectively.
“We work with Department of Parks and Wildlife and today we are celebrating World Ranger Day to support our rangers who have a lot of needs. We are working to support them,” he said.
World Ranger Day is an annual event commemorated on 31 July, but Malawi commemorated it on 30th to give room to participants as the 31st falls on Sunday.
The Malawi event was spiced up with combat training, obstacle course and a film show on work of rangers.
Malawian Style, Ama Khofi, Madidi Lodge, Kuti Wildlife Reserve, Latitude 13, Falvours Café, Bua River Lodge, Mediterraneo, Central Wilderness Safaris, Land & Lake Safaris, Koko Bean and Lilongwe Wildlife Trust sponsored a charity raffle to support rangers.
Some participants won trips and tours at the event.
This year, the day is celebrated under the theme “Connecting Parks, Rangers, and Communities.”