On 26 July 2010 Achille Vilavu was killed whilst protecting the gorillas of Mount Tshiaberimu against a Mai Mai militia attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Achille is just one of a long line of rangers who have given their lives for conservation worldwide.
Rangers are the guards of our protected areas, working in the field to ensure that wildlife can continue to prosper in protected areas. They are the last frontier between species and ecosystems and those that would want to destroy them. Daily confronted by conflict, smuggling or poaching, their job is to ensure effective protection at all costs. More than 1,000 rangers have been killed protecting nature in their line of duty. In many countries they are the only earner of the family and they leave their wives and children in desperate situations.
On 31 July, it’s World Ranger Day, a day for remembering all rangers that have given their lives to conservation. To help the families of rangers, you can either organize an event on 31 July, or visit the Thin Greenline Foundation.
IUCN’s Global Programme on Protected Areas, the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas and the International Ranger Federation support the Thin Green Line Foundation to help the families of rangers killed in the line of duty and to reduce the risk to rangers. The Foundation supports the families of Park rangers killed, and promotes the need to prevent further ranger deaths, on the frontline of conservation. The Thin Green Line Foundation supports 40 widows and families of rangers killed this year, but there are more than 1,000 families worldwide awaiting support.
Sean Wilmore, President of the Thin Green Line Foundation, sold all of his belongings and travelled the world to produce a film to raise awareness of rangers and increase recognition of their essential contribution to conservation. The DVD of the film and other articles are for sale on the Thin Green Line website and all proceeds go directly to support families of rangers. By supporting the Thin Green Line Foundation and its work, you are helping families directly.
Through this article IUCN would not only like to thank all rangers, but supports and grieves with all the families of rangers who have died.
In Memorium of the Rangers who have died since the last World Ranger Day, 31 July 2009
Aaron Harber (Australia)
Felix Rodriguez (Puerto Rico)
Kenneth Betancourt (Puerto Rico)
Mauricio Guillen (Peru)
John Mapheu (South Africa)
Bongo Skotsho (South Africa)
Marvin Williams (South Africa)
Safari Kakule (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Kambale Katambiriki (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Kanyangara Muhima (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Achille Vilavu (Democratic Republic of Congo)