The Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammed Abubakar, says wildlife park rangers in the country now grapple with terrorists, kidnappers cattle rustlers and bandits in their line of duty.
Abubakar spoke in Abuja on Monday, August 9, 2021 during the candlelight memorial in honour of fallen heroes of the National Park Service (NPS) to mark World Ranger Day (WRD).
He said it was sad that, in recent times, the challenges faced by park rangers working tirelessly to protect the country’s wildlife had taken a dangerous dimension.
Abubakar said that adequate measures were being taken by the Ministry to overcome the present predicament faced by the NPS especially the challenges affecting rangers.
The Minister noted that government was fully aware of the numerous challenges.
“These challenges range from contending with poachers, loggers, miners, grazers, to trekking long distances, inadequate patrol vehicles, use of obsolete firearms, inadequate modern equipment and inadequate manpower.
“I am pleased to inform you that the government is abreast of these arduous challenges that are debilitating the National Park Service,” he added.
Abubakar praised the NPS for working tirelessly in its responsibility of protecting, preserving and conserving the nation’s natural resources.
“I want to express my sincere sympathy to the National Park Service and the families of the departed heroes.
“The memories of the fallen heroes will continue to live in us,’’ he said.
Dr Ibrahim Goni, the Conservator-General, NPS, said the occasion was held to honour unforgettable fallen heroes who despite all odds strived very hard to make the environment a better place to live in.
Goni described park rangers as unsung heroes of wildlife conservation whose critical contributions to a healthy environment and general wellbeing were hardly noticed by all and sundry.
He lamented the fact that rangers were always under-appreciated because they worked in remote places and were not often in the media spotlight.
Goni said there was need to associate with them and encourage them to keep up the good work as they protected the critical ecosystem.
“They weather the storm to ensure that you and I are safe from all forms of environmental-related hazards by preventing biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation, biological monitoring, habitat management, human-wildlife conflict mitigation, tourism and many others.
“Records made available by the International Rangers Federation indicate that about 120 rangers had lost their lives in the line of duty from August 2020 to 30th July, 2021 across the globe and Nigeria accounts for 17 deaths out of this figure,’’ he said.
According to Goni, the candlelight memorial in honour of the fallen heroes of National Park Service was an innovation to add glamour to WRD celebration.
Danjuma Magaji, Deputy Conservator of Parks, a ranger, commended the government for collaborating with some non-governmental organizations in training some rangers and providing some equipment.
World Ranger Day is celebrated around the world on July 31 each year to rememember the many rangers who have been injured or killed in the line of duty while protecting national and state parks.
By Patience Omoha