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Petaling Jaya, 3 August 2012 – More than 100 postcards had been made out to the respective Tiger Rangers and Ranger Teams in the country from the staff of WWF-Malaysia today. This is in support of the newly launched ‘Cards4Tigers’ action jointly organised by WWF’s Tigers Alive Initiative, TRAFFIC-SEA and MY CAT. The postcards are a show of support and appreciation for the rangers, and the work they do, to stop wildlife crime across the world’s 12 remaining tiger landscapes.
The campaign was launched on July 31st to jointly coincide with World Tiger Day and World Ranger Day, on the 29th and 31st respectively, to celebrate the world’s largest species of cat and the people who risk life and limb to protect them.
Also known as forest guards, park wardens and field enforcement officers, many rangers work under harsh conditions to keep wild tigers and other animals safe. The work of a Ranger is multi-faceted and far from easy, and yet they are among the lowest paid of all government employees. And with their duties having them go into the depths of the jungle for weeks at length, they spend significant amounts of time away from their families.
“The role of park rangers is one that is often forgotten as they are usually working in remote areas far from the eyes of the general public. However, their contribution is no less than that of other protectors of our country’s security and assets, such as the army, the police and the firefighters. The natural resources that our park rangers protect are priceless and are important for the well-being of our people and nation. Therefore, it is appropriate that park rangers should get the same kind of recognition; respect and support in order for them perform their role effectively,” said WWF-Malaysia CEO, Dato’ Dr. Dionysius Sharma.
In conjunction with World Ranger Day, WWF-Malaysia together with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) launched a documentary entitled ‘Wira Rimba’ in an official screening in honour of the services of the Forest and Park Rangers in Malaysia. The 45-minute feature was inspired by the work Australian park ranger, Sean Willmore, entitled ‘The Thin Green Line’ which was screened in 35 countries and had spurred the establishment of The Thin Green Line Foundation in the interest of forest and park rangers all over the world.
The rangers are the first line of defense against wildlife crime but are often unarmed and underequipped against organised poaching by armed criminal gangs. The Thin Green Line Foundation reported 1,000 rangers have lost their lives in the line of duty over the past decade – one every four days. The International Ranger Foundation reports that in the past 12 months, at least 60 rangers have died while on the job. Over half of these deaths have been classified as homicides.
The Cards4Tigers initiative fuels the Tigers Alive Initiative’s ‘Zero Poaching’ campaign that calls up0n the Governments of the tiger-range countries to commit and take firmer action against poachers and players of the illegal trade of animals. TAI could leverage on the heighten awareness reflected by the level of participation and response garnered from the campaign to further advance this petition.
“Rangers are critical in achieving Zero Poaching,” said Mike Baltzer, Leader of WWF’s Tigers Alive Initiative.
“Yet they are not always fully appreciated for their work. Through the Cards4Tigers action, we aim to provide an easy way for people all across the world to show their support to the rangers. We intend to use the cards to show the government leaders that the world thinks the rangers need more help and resources to save wild tigers.”
In Malaysia’s Royal Belum State Park, considerable poaching activity has been documented. Although occupying an area of over 1,000 km2, the park only has 17 enforcement staff. Contrasting this is protected areas such as Kaziranga Tiger Reserve in India, with approximately 800 enforcement staff for about 860 km2, they have been able to stem poaching activity.
“Without these dedicated frontliners working hard to stem out poaching, tiger range countries cannot hope to achieve the TX2 goal of doubling wild tiger numbers by 2022. Zero Poaching is the way forward, and action must start now. We can achieve tiger recovery, and double their numbers if we double our efforts, and work together,” said Mike Baltzer.
Tackling poaching requires professionally managed protected areas and often, high levels of ranger patrolling. But park rangers are usually outnumbered by local people living in the surrounding areas. If parks fail to gain the help of local people in the fight against poaching, then the continued efforts of the poachers will overwhelm even the best-trained, motivated rangers who are at the frontline protecting tigers.
Engaging society in conservation is crucial for lasting and effective conservation.But if society actively supports conservation efforts, then rangers would be part of a broad alliance that outnumbers the poachers.
WWF-Malaysia (World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia), the national conservation trust, currently runs more than 90 projects covering a diverse range of environmental protection work. Since 1972, WWF-Malaysia has worked on important conservation projects, from saving endangered species such as tigers and turtles, to protecting our highland forests, rivers and seas. We also undertake environmental education and advocacy work to achieve conservation goals. By conserving our natural resources, WWF-Malaysia is helping to protect our livelihoods, food and water supply, thus securing our good quality of life and our children’s bright future. We thank our supporters whose contributions enable our conservation work. If you would like to donate to WWF- Malaysia or learn more about our projects, please call: +603-78033772 or visit: www.wwf.org.my or www.facebook.com/wwfmy
About WWF’s Tiger Alive Initiative (TAI)
The TAI’s vision is to ensure that tigers thrive in viable wild populations in 13 priority landscapes, secure from the threats to their survival and coexisting with local communities. With the aim to double the number of wild tigers by 2022.
1. Conservation, restoration, and management of tiger habitat in 13 tiger landscapes
2. Protection, recovery, and management of tiger populations and prey populations at landscape scales
3. Engaging local communities and other relevant stakeholders as conservation stewards by providing economic and livelihood incentives
4. Addressing poaching and tiger trade at local, national and international levels
5. Leveraging tiger-friendly policies, commitments, and actions from range state governments, major development organizations, and business and industries.
For general media queries:
Michele Lin Sinnathamboo, Media & Public Affairs WWF-Malaysia, Tel: +603-78033772 ext 6303, +6010-2207410, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org