According to a statement by African Parks, the seven rangers namely: Benito Willie of Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi, Daoba Dieudonne Komerewa of Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Forment Kalaba Chisala of Bangweulu Wetlands in Zambia, Dari Narakoua, Juste Sokoutinde of Pendjari National Park in the Republic of Benin, Leonidas Mpumuje and Anthony Nzuki of Akagera National Park in Rwanda.
The Ranger Awards pay tribute to the contributions made by Africa’s rangers to protect the continent’s remaining wild landscapes. The finalists were come from 17 countries across Africa, they were recognized for their exemplary leadership and commitment to these vital places, where their actions deliver security and create safe places so that ecosystems can function and people and wildlife can benefit from them.
In his keynote speech at the awards ceremony, Hugues Akpona, Institutional Funding Manager of African Parks and President of Benin Rangers’ Association noted that there’s close connection between natural resources and economic well being of people.
He said: “The state of Africa's wildlife and the prosperity of its people are interlinked: wildlife and wild places have economic as well as ecological value to people and countries.”
“Without these natural resources, the pressures of poverty will continue to fuel more conflicts, insecurity and instability. Rangers are on the frontline helping us rewrite the narrative of mass extinctions, poverty and land degradation. It is not too late for Africa and I am hopeful for a brighter future”.
African Parks boasts of over 1,000 rangers in ten countries being the largest ranger team for any one NGO in Africa.
The statement further discloses that in 2018 alone, the teams confiscated 59,200 illicit items, removed over 16,800 snares and effected over 790 arrests, and four African Parks’ rangers were recognized by the inaugural 2018 African Ranger Awards.
Jack Ma greeting some of the rangers in Accra Ghana - Alizila
On his part one of the awardees, Juste Sokoutinde, Ranger of Pendjari National Park in the Republic of Benin said maintaining a healthy ecosystem is good for posterity.
"Conservation is very important to me, because it is very difficult to restore nature when it is destroyed. It is important to maintain the ecosystem, preserve animal habitats and develop it without modifying its ability to fully play its recreational, educational, tourism role and its use for scientific research”.
African Parks documents that wildlife conservation isn’t a simple job. Globally over the past decade, almost 1,000 rangers have lost their lives countering the myriad threats on the frontline of conservation.
African Ranger Awards is a ten year programme that seeks to support 500 wildlife rangers in Africa. African believes the awards help to ‘shine a light on the critical security’ rangers provide for countless species and millions of people.