World Ranger Day is observed on the 31st of July each year.
It is the day to commemorate those Rangers killed or injured in the line of duty. It is also a day to celebrate surviving Rangers and the never ending work they do to protect Thailand’s natural heritage and wildlife.
It’s a day when each of us should take some time to think about the enormity of the sacrifice some have had to sadly make.
A day to reflect on how their families still weep with sorrow, how their children will grow without their support,how their colleagues reminisce their past camaraderie, how their future hopes and plans will no longer be. How we would suffer at dealing with such loss in our own families.
In 2013/14 the following Department of National Park Rangers, sadly lost their lives in the line of duty:
- Boonkit Inthapanya
- Boonop Mekha
- Chakon Lertkhang
- Angthong Ngamying
- Pipat Klangprapan
- Prasert Chumpon
And to date in 2014/15 the following have, tragically, given their lives in the line of duty as well:
- Supot Kludnernkloom
- Somchai Teenoi
- Chaiya Wongtapha
- Rachen Permpoon
- Likhit Somboon
- Pornchai Tongtaworn
Give a thought to what the toll for 2015/16 may be, and the years that follow that. The lives of more Rangers may be lost, sad and unjust as that is. For each year Rangers on patrol will face dangers from those unscrupulous and greed driven individuals that wish to steal Thailand’s natural heritage from her. Those who naively wish to convert the final bastions of nature’s rich tapestry into meaningless personal profit.
As forest users ourselves, we must always be cognizant that someone has given the ultimate sacrifice in protecting what we cherish. That our enjoyment of the forest and her remaining fauna and flora has a heavy levy paid in blood and tears.
So consider to voice their names out loud so that they are not forgotten and dwell on the poignant words of W.H.Auden: “To save your world you asked this man to die: Would this man, could he see you now, ask why?”
And with respect to the future we should also make ourselves aware of the issues facing the Ranger cadre on a daily basis, and contemplate some startling, yet sadly true, statements:
“ Almost 60% of all rangers killed this year are from Asia…” Source: IUCN
“ India, Thailand, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have seen the sharpest increase in ranger deaths caused by poachers in recent years. Areas rich in elephants, rhinos, sandalwood, rosewood and other valuable resources are most affected.” Source: IUCN
“In Thailand, more than 40 park rangers have been murdered in the last five years, with many more injured or left in a critical condition.” Source: IUCN
“Rangers often work alone and with inadequate equipment. Some die in animal attacks and accidents, but many more are murdered by poachers and criminal gangs.” Source: EIA
"...illegal logging of rosewood has escalated, corresponding with deteriorating security for [Thai] rangers conducting patrols. Organized criminal gangs are financing and equipping increasingly well-armed and violent poaching groups, often using deadly force to evade capture. Dozens of rangers have been killed protecting Thailand’s forests in recent years." Source : FREELAND
To mark the fallen rangers a special commemoration will be held at Khao Yai National Park on July 27th, 2015.
World Ranger Day Thailand 2014 - image copyright J. McGreggor/Freeland