De Hoop Field and Marine Rangers – Working tirelessly to preserve this Marine Protected Area
By Lusanda Gqaza & Yanga Mbatana (Environmental Education Officers at Potberg, De Hoop Nature Reserve)
World Ranger Day is celebrated every year on the 31st July to commemorate rangers worldwide who were killed or injured in the line of duty. The day also celebrates the hard work done and sacrifices made by field and park rangers to protect our natural heritage.
These field rangers include those that have served and dedicated their time in protecting one of CapeNature’s pristine locations, the De Hoop Nature Reserve. De Hoop is one of the largest natural areas managed by CapeNature, boasting an impressive 34 000 hectares of conserved land. It has been proclaimed as a world heritage site and is home to the only colony of vultures in the Western Cape. There is a lot of hard work and dedication required in maintaining this reserve – take a bow the tireless De Hoop field rangers!
Field Rangers are the backbone of conservation. The team at de Hoop perform an array of duties and responsibilities on a daily basis. These include ecological monitoring and surveys, combating veld fires, counting game and supporting the reserve manager and conservation services as and when needed. They are also possess a fountain of knowledge which they dispense to environmental education groups visiting the Potberg Environmental Education Centre.
Another critical part of their work is compliance. Patrols are carried out on an almost daily basis. One of the challenges that they deal with frequently is the illegal collection and exploitation of indigenous wild plants and animals. The unique plants and animals of the Western Cape unfortunately attract biodiversity criminals including scientists, syndicates and professional traders.
The De Hoop field ranger team puts their lives at risk every day whether dealing with poachers. Nonetheless, the team continues to serve the cause with great pride and dedication. Without the field rangers, conservation work at De Hoop or any nature reserve would grind to a halt!
We salute the field rangers of De Hoop and, indeed all rangers the world over. It is fitting to give the last word to De Hoop ranger, Willem Dowrey says that, “Being a field ranger means that I am constantly in touch with the environment and nature, while I am protecting it. It genuinely fulfills my soul”.
This World Ranger Day, CapeNature would like to thank and acknowledge all field and park rangers for their ongoing service. Their hard work and dedication certainly does not go unnoticed.