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Game Rangers Association meet SANParks rangers ahead of World Rangers Day

28 July 2017

South African National Parks (SANParks) hosted the Game Rangers Association of Africa today, the 27 July 2017 ahead of International Rangers Day (31st July 2017). Discussions kicked off with the relevance of the socio-economic impact of Garden Route National Park in the Region.

Paddy Gordon, Park Manager of the GRNP illustrated the  multiple roles played by rangers to ensure National Parks remain havens for the conservation of biodiversity and allow visitors to experience this through various tourism offerings. ‘Some 34 events go through the Garden Route National Park every year, more than 200,000 visitors a year but our role remains that of conserving nature for current and future generations and creating experiences for visitors in nature. These include multiple hiking trails, cycling, forest excursions (ziplining, segways, scootours) and others.’ Gordon also commended the training and mentoring sessions held with between the Game Rangers Association and Rangers in the Garden Route. 

Trail running has become a drawcard for the Parks. This year over 10,000 people have already run through the forests from Wilderness to Tsitsikamma, this includes events such as the Knysna Forest Marathon during the Knysna Oyster Festival and others.  All sporting activities happen on zoned-off land where activities are compatible with the broader conservation objective. Marine ecologist’s presentation, Kyle Smith, focused on trail runners as vectors of seed dispersal in National Parks. Through an experiment conducted during the Otter Trail Run, Smith and his team were able to raise awareness about seeds of invasive alien species carried into a National Park. ‘The message is clean the souls of your running shoes before and after every raise. That way we minimize the risk of seeds dispersing.’ 

This goes for game ranger vehicles and every mechanism of transport in and out of Parks. 

Other discussions on the day were about Fynbos, forest and fire management which was led by the Southern Cape Fire Protection Association. 

Andrew Campbell, CEO of the Game Rangers Association of Africa ‘mentorship and leadership training is important for rangers hence a dedicated ranger program was lined up for Rangers in today’s program.’ Campbell also says the growing number of rangers who have died this year in the line of duty is a concern. Some 55 Rangers have died in the line of duty this year, an increase from last year’s 35 reported cases. 

The Game Rangers Association members have come from across the African continent for an AGM held in Wilderness (Ebb & Flow Rest Camp) and opened up two of its days to meet with SANParks. The organisation’s focus is on providing the necessary skills for rangers across Africa. 


Andrew Campbell of the Game Ranger Association (left) speaks to Paddy Gordon (right), Park manager, Garden Route National Park.


Rangers in attendance


Attendees

Media contact: Nandi Mgwadlamba, 044 302 5633, nandi.mgwadlamba@sanparks.org

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