Global Wildlife Conservation, James Slade and Barney Long
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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
Leadership & Conservation through Mentoring, Networking, Training, and Hands-on Experience.