By Justine Geoffrey Mkweu…
Malawi currently has about 500 wildlife rangers of its minimum need of 1000 game rangers for the country’s wildlife parks and reserves.
According to Malawi News Agency (MANA), Director of National Parks and Wildlife, Brighton Kumchedwa said this during the World Ranger Day celebrations organized by Department of National Parks and Wildlife.
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.
Malawi is one of the countries in Africa that is rich in wildlife attraction as it has more national parks and water reservoirs that keep good wild life and aquatic animals.