Black Rhino Team

Project Partners

Global Wildlife Conservation, James Slade and Barney Long

Board Advisor

Dave Mizejewski


African rhinos are hunted at the highest level of all rhino species. In the last century, black rhinos have had the most dramatic population decline of all rhino species, down from 65,000 animals in the 1970’s to between 5,366 and 5,630 today. The frontline defense against this poaching epidemic are wildlife rangers, who put their lives on the line every day to protect the species under their care. Despite their enormous responsibility, a 2016 survey of ranger working conditions found that 82% of African rangers have faced a life-threatening situation at work and 59% do not feel they are provided with proper equipment and amenities to ensure their safety. Additionally, as evidenced by low salaries and inadequate leave, there is not enough recognition by governments and the public on either the importance or the daily difficulties of ranger work. These cumulative stressors impact ranger wellbeing, which can lead to a loss of motivation to continue fighting for these imperiled species.

This project team, in partnership with Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC), built a communication and advocacy toolkit for the support, honor, and empowerment of wildlife rangers around the globe, with a focus on rangers responsible for the protection of the Critically Endangered Black Rhino.

Black Rhino


    The Black Rhino team successfully delivered five communication outputs as part of a global advocacy toolkit for wildlife rangers, centered around our crafted slogan “Rangers Deserve More”. The toolkit, which includes a series of five animated videos, an infographic depicting ranger roles and successes, a children’s comic strip, as well as branded shirts and stickers to support this campaign, will be used to encourage decision makers to provide long-term, sustainable support to rangers and to improve community perceptions of rangers.

    Over the course of the project, the “Rangers Deserve More” campaign grew in scope and impact beyond original project vision.  The campaign and its slogan were adopted by the Universal Ranger Support Alliance (URSA), a collaborative initiative of eight conservation organizations that joined together in 2020 to deliver a “new deal” for wildlife rangers, including the development of global welfare standards and a code of conduct.

    Rangers will be able to utilize this EWCL team’s resources to advocate on their own behalf to government agencies, while URSA is continuing the promotion of the #RangersDeserveMore campaign through their adoption of these resources. The professionalization and support of rangers, which our campaign advocates for, will help in making positive, long-term changes in the protection and conservation of rhinos and other endangered species. 

    #RangersDeserveMore at the World Ranger Congress:

    | The team worked alongside Viget, a full-service interactive design agency, to create an infographic supporting ranger welfare and the ranger profession, which was utilized at the World Ranger Congress 2019 (WRC) in Nepal. Two members of the team attended the WRC to message the need for global long-term support, honor, and empowerment of rangers. The infographic data and the  #RangersDeserveMore slogan were well received by rangers at the Congress. Highlights and metrics around the infographic engagement listed below:

    • 70+ countries represented at the 9th World Ranger Congress, Nepal, the largest World Ranger Congress to date. 
    • 550 delegates exposed to infographic messaging, with content being available in the communication toolkit in both PDF and standard print form.
    • Black Rhino team engaged in 283 booth discussions with rangers, with additional verbal engagements through workshops, discussions, field excursions, etc.
    • 18 filmed interviews conducted by the Black Rhino team. These interviews are being worked into additional project outputs with Running Wild Media.
    • Post-Congress, the Infographic continues to be utilized via printed 12’x4’ banners at the Topeka Zoo & Conservation Center and during behind-the-scenes rhino experiences at Busch Gardens Tampa.  
    • Post-Congress, the #RangersDeserveMore campaign was utilized to provide social media engagement opportunities on World Rhino Day 07.31.20.

    URSA Involvement:

    Universal Ranger Support Alliance | At the International Ranger Federation’s 2019 World Congress in Chitwan, Nepal, more than 550 Rangers from 70 countries agreed to the Chitwan Declaration, which set out a detailed list of needs and priorities for rangers. Much of the evidence for these needs comes directly from rangers, 7,110 of whom contributed detailed responses to a major global survey, the results of which were published in 2019. 

    In response to the Chitwan Declaration, a group of international conservation organizations formed the Universal Ranger Support Alliance (URSA) to help implement the Declaration and address the issues and obstacles faced by rangers. Resulting from the strong positive response to the #RangersDeserveMore initiative launched at the WRC, the EWCL Black Rhino project team was asked to participate in the creation of URSA goals and objectives to further develop the Chitwan Declaration initiatives.  

    URSA has developed a global action plan that can help all those working with rangers support them to do their jobs effectively and responsibly. By ensuring that the urgently needed investment, tools, reforms and policy changes are put in place, the Alliance’s purpose is to improve the well-being of rangers, and the local communities with whom their work is intrinsically linked. In developing media and awareness, URSA is adopting the #RangersDeserveMore campaign and Black Rhino team toolkit developed through this project for long-term impact in Ranger recognition and professionalization.

    International Ranger Roundtable Discussions:

    In evaluating impact and planning further development of the URSA Action Plan, Ranger Roundtable (RR) discussions were planned with an international panel of rangers and conservation organizations, including participation by the EWCL Black Rhino team. Each of three consecutive Roundtable discussions focused on strategy development for further support, honor, and empowerment of Rangers.  Ongoing roundtables are planned, with goals of further development of the URSA Action Plan for best practices and greatest impact. 

    • 07.23.20 | RR#1 - Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Rangers. The Inaugural Ranger Roundtable was attended by representatives from across the global Ranger sector; including government bodies, as well as conservation, intergovernmental, and philanthropic organizations - with a focus on the current pandemic and effects on Rangers.
    • 10.22.20 | RR#2 - Repositioning Rangers. Brainstorming efforts focused on how to professionalize Rangers and raise their profile - to find a strategy for changing the narrative in order for governments to reform their approach to Rangers.
    • 02.23.21 | RR#3 - The Imperative of Rangers within the Regenerative Economy.  Discussion focused on the direct and indirect contributions of Rangers to the ecosystem services provided by protected areas. 
    1. The team worked with Viget’s graphic design team to create an infographic supporting ranger welfare and the ranger profession, which was used in a 12’x4’ format, as well as a standard poster format at the World Ranger Congress 2019 in Nepal. This banner offered an interactive component where audiences were encouraged to write what they believed rangers deserve more of on white board material, and pose for a photo.

    2. Series of 5 Animated Videos 
      The team is in production on a series of five animated videos that will be utilized by GWC and URSA in a global campaign to raise awareness and drive much-needed support for rangers from policy-makers and government agencies around the world. The videos are narrated by Academy Award-nominated actor Edward Norton, and work both as stand-alone videos and as a series in succession. The videos focus on the following topics: defining a ranger, ranger roles, importance of rangers, why the ranger profession deserves more, and local and global solutions to the ranger challenges addressed in the videos.  The animated series will premiere in May 2021, with several languages/subtitles being offered for maximizing global reach.  The videos will be available through all social channels, including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
    3. Ranger Comic 
      The team worked with Kameron Gates - artist, animator, and director - to develop a two-page comic strip, highlighting the life, roles and impact of wildlife rangers. The comic is targeted at a youth audience, and depicts rangers as superheroes, to promote ranger recognition and honor with kids. The story revolves around two rangers working to save a black rhino from a snare, utilizing their skills and local community support. The message prioritizes wildlife ranger skills and successes, while underlying graphics and text address ranger welfare, capacity, professionalisation, gender, technology, and community relations.
      Published versions of the comic are in progress with global youth magazines and ranger websites. Hard copies are being provided to youth, rangers, and their families in black rhino range countries and beyond.


      comic page 1


      comic page 2
    4. Branded Stickers 
      The team developed 4,000 #RangersDeserveMore branded graphics and stickers to support the URSA initiative and the Rangers Deserve More campaign.  The vinyl decals were launched at the World Ranger Congress in Nepal and worn by rangers on shirts, water bottles, and backpacks.  Ranger team leaders also took stickers back to their home countries for further distribution and messaging.  Each sticker features a different species, and the phrase “Rangers Deserve More” in a different language. The stickers will be used to generate support for ranger initiatives across the globe, and to connect rangers in distinct locations across a common goal. The underlying design files are available for use by URSA after EWCL project completion. 
    5. Branded Shirts
      The team developed a series of #RangersDeserveMore branded shirts to support the overall project campaign, with 150 being sold at the initial fundraising event.  The shirts were used to raise funds for project components and to promote the overall campaign message. Shirts will continue to be offered to rangers through GWC and URSA after EWCL project completion. URSA is additionally exploring the possibility of partnering with a major retailer for a global-scale campaign apparel push for a limited edition ‘Rangers Deserve More’ line of shirts/gear with the goal of raising further awareness for rangers. 
    • Global Wildlife Conservation | GWC was the project team’s partner organization for developing the ranger recognition toolkit. GWC is a founding member of the Universal Ranger Support Alliance.
    • Universal Ranger Support Alliance | URSA is a newly founded group of international conservation organizations, formed to address issues and obstacles of wildlife rangers at a global level. The Alliance includes the International Ranger Federation, Global Wildlife Conservation, World Wildlife Fund, Fauna & Flora International, Zoological Society of London, IUCN - World Commission on Protected Areas, Panthera, and Force for Nature. URSA aims to enable and advocate for better training, support, safety, and equality for rangers, as well as greater recognition of the critical value of their work.  
    • Viget Design | Viget is a full-service interactive agency focusing on strategy, design, and development.  Viget worked with the team (pro-bono) to develop the ranger infographic. 
    • Kameron Gates Design | Kameron Gates is a live action and animation Director who designed a 2-page comic focusing on ‘Rangers Rescuing Rhinos’.  
    • Provita | The mission of Provita Venezuela is to develop innovative socio-environmental solutions to conserve nature. The media team from Provita provided variations of the #RangersDeserveMore sticker, utilizing ten languages and a diversity of species/ecosystems that represent Ranger frontline locations throughout the world.
    • International Ranger Federation (IRF) | The IRF actively promotes and supports the formation of Ranger Associations around the world to ensure Rangers are more adequately supported and represented. For the 9th World Ranger Congress, IRF dedicated high-profile space for the EWCL #RangersDeserveMore initiative and infographic.   
    • Busch Gardens Tampa | Busch Gardens Tampa is an AZA-accredited zoo in Florida and part of the SEA company, providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. With a mission of rescue, rehabilitation, and conservation, and to help promote conservation through rangers on the frontline, Busch Gardens provided labor and resources for the printing of the infographic banner for use at the World Ranger Congress in Nepal. 
    • Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center | The Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center is a medium-sized AZA-accredited zoo in Kansas, with a mission to increase wildlife education and conservation. The Topeka Zoo provided support for the ranger stickers, video through Running Wild Media, and comic strip.
    • Running Wild Media |  Running Wild Media is a film production company that specializes in wildlife, science, expedition and conservation filming, with a mission to build a community of environmental stewards and empower their actions to conservation wildlife and protect the planet. RWM created a video focusing on global ranger perspectives, utilizing interviews and footage from the World Ranger Congress in Nepal.  
    • Force for Nature | This online platform is the world’s first private community App connecting one million wildlife Rangers for social interaction, knowledge exchange, and learning. Force for Nature is committed to preserving nature and the value it brings humanity, by supporting wildlife Rangers and those at the forefront of environmental protection. The F4N app is building a powerful community to unify Rangers, amplify their stories, and campaign for their welfare. Through this app, the EWCL Black Rhino team toolkit will be available to rangers worldwide.
    • Wonders of Life Studios | Ed Perry is a wildlife photographer who has traveled the world, photographing wildlife, people, and architecture commercially and for the fine art world. He provided pro bono stills and videos to the EWCL Black Rhino team at the WRC in Nepal. 
    • Painted Dog Conservation |Painted Dog Conservation is a non-profit conservation organization in Zimbabwe with a mission to create an environment where painted dogs can thrive.  Their rangers provided field demonstrations as visual resources - anti-poaching teams patrolling and tracking in local areas.  
    • Under Global Wildlife Conservation’s partnership, we would also like to thank Academy-Award nominated actor Edward Norton for his voiceover narrations and the below animators, illustrators, and sound designers for their impactful work on this project: 
    • Thomas Wischerath, Habitat Music
    • Matt Severin, Motion Mixtape
    • Erika Lutz, Lost In Forestville
    • Ilona Rybak 
    • Fernão Spadotto 
    • Margaret To
    • Stina Wahlen 
    • Eline Schippere

    Rangers are vital to our planet.  They maximize the value of nature for all, and they deserve our support.  Join us in these efforts, and support the Rangers Deserve More campaign:

    • Learn more about the vital role of rangers in conservation.
    • Download the URSA Action Plan Summary, and encourage your government representatives to provide greater support to rangers. 
    • Join the global #RangersDeserveMore movement and use this hashtag on World Ranger Day (July 31st) each year.
    • Help ranger efforts on the ground by becoming a Citizen Ranger.  Download the Force for Nature app on your phone to keep up-to-date on ranger stories, triumphs, concerns, and ways to help.  Follow ranger initiatives on the Force for Nature website
    • Share our products and resources!
    • Thank a ranger for their work!

    Funds Earned

    Funders | The EWCL Black Rhino team received $22,000 in grant funding from Topeka Zoo & Conservation Center, SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, WWF, and GWC.

    Pro bono collaborations | The project team worked alongside Provita, Viget, Wonders of Life Studios, and Painted Dog Conservation. 

    In-kind services | $11,000

    Fundraisers | Campaign-branded shirts raised $1,100

    Total Project Budget: ~$38K